Cal Poly Pomona students garnered an award for best algorithm in a HackMIT program competition at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, Saturday, Oct. 5.
Ethan Chow, fourth-year electrical engineering student; Bryan Thornbury, fourth-year computer science student; Garrett Porter, fourth-year electrical engineering student and Rafael Rayo, sixth-year Computer science student created one of two teams who represented CPP at the competition.
The students participated in an annual event called a “hackathon” hosted by MIT where students, 18 and older, are invited from any country to participate in the 22-hour “hack” or program-making marathon.
More than 300 student teams from 32 countries took part in the two-day event. Teams were allowed to make anything, from software to hardware; the only stipulation the tournament had was that it needed to be computer-related programs.
The team decided to make a program to help students narrow down and determine which places on campus are popular for food and entertainment, especially during U-Hour.
The CPP students developed an application they called Project Coeus, a real-time data analysis for mobile users to produce trending places of interest on the CPP campus.
Project Coeus was awarded with “Best Use in Algorithm” by Akamai, an internet content delivery network who was one of the sponsoring entities of HackMIT. According to Chow, this is a huge acknowledgement because the award implies that the formula they used was one of, if not the most unique algorithms in the competition, especially in the way it was applied to program.
Thornbury said that Project Coeus was solving a difficult “problem.” Therefore, the team needed an efficient program able to tackle the problem well, and sponsors took notice of it.
“When [the sponsors] look at the way our program ran, they saw that it was well put together so that it would run really fast,” said Thornbury. “And that’s essentially what defines a good algorithm.”
The team initially registered for the event individually, without sponsors or advisors, but eventually collaborated to represent the university. Chow said that the competition was an opportunity for the team.
“MIT and the HackMIT program is one of the most prestigious of its kind,” said Chow. “Students from top universities all over the world compete in it. [My teammates and I] thought it would be a great way to show others what CPP students can do.”
Chow said it was a great thing to be recognized for their hard work, especially because they stayed awake for 39 hours to finish their project.
Chow’s teammate, Thornbury, said that the event and award is not only beneficial for him and his peers but to all university students as well.
“As representatives of the Computer Science department, we went to MIT, one of the top schools in the world and competed effectively,” said Thornbury. “It shows how great of a university Cal Poly Pomona is and that stretches across to all the majors.”
Cpp student, Nicollette Yadegar, also formed a team with her fellow fourth-year computer systems students and competed in HackMIT. Her team decided to build a web application for volunteer and charity work, and although her team did not win any awards, she said she learned a lot from the event and that it was great that the other CPP team received recognition for their program.
Besides gaining recognition and awards, CPP competitors said the opportunity to meet other college students and network with different companies around the world was a good experience, and that given the chance, they would compete again.