Students work overnight for HackRU competition


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Photo by Julian Chokkattu |

More than 300 students signed up for this year’s HackRU, a hackathon hosted by The Underground Student Alliance of Computer Scientists which ran from Saturday at 2 p.m. until Sunday around 4 p.m. at the Cook Campus Center.


With yellow cartons of coffee from Au Bon Pain lying empty and platters that once held sandwiches now littered with strings of lettuce, the Multipurpose Room in the Livingston Student Center was filled with more than 200 weary students.

The Underground Student Alliance of Computer Scientists held the fourth HackRU event from 2 p.m. Saturday through Sunday evening. HackRU is a hackathon where participants split into teams to create software projects overnight within the given timeframe.

Sameen Jalal, co-founder of HackRU, said he began the competition three years ago.

“This is my first year competing and not an organizer, and compared to when I started it three years ago, I’m really proud of what HackRU has become,” said Jalal, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Jalal won second place this year for his project involving reverse location search for images. He used a photo he took this winter in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral and mapped out the entire area.

“I used Google Street View images of that area, so if I said ‘where was this taken,’ it would give me the exact latitude and longitude and what direction I was facing,” Jalal said.

The practical uses extend to the program automatically geo-tagging photos in an album and more, he said.

“If you’re lost, and you just had your phone on you, and the GPS wasn’t working — if you take a [picture] of your surrounding area, it will give you your exact location and the direction you are facing,” he said.

The hack took him more than 15 hours to complete, Jalal said. He began around 7 p.m. Saturday and finished it Sunday at 11:30 a.m.

He said the first-place winners were a team that made a Google Chrome extension based around downloads. If a user downloaded a particular item once and then downloaded the same item at another time, the extension would prompt a message asking if the user wanted to download it again.

More than 300 people signed up to attend the hackathon this year, Jalal said, with more than 45 teams presenting their projects at the end of the 24-hour long event. Jalal said in the first HackRU, only 9 students presented at the end.

Professional companies present at the hackathon, such as Microsoft and Mashery, presented prizes for participants who used their technology the best, said Jalal, who represented Facebook.


By Julian Chokkattu

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