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February 24, 2020

HackUCI’s Record-Breaking Weekend

Five hundred undergraduate and graduate students camped out in UCI’s Student Center for 36 hours from Jan. 31 through Feb. 2, resulting in record-breaking attendance for HackUCI 2020. The students spent the weekend building all kinds of apps, games and platforms, and with $10,400 in prizes — almost double last year’s offerings — productivity was at an all-time high for this sixth annual hackathon.

Students working in the UCI Student Center at HackUCI 2020.

“While HackUCI 2020 broke several records this year, including most attendees, highest retention rate, and highest project submission rate, the most impressive highlight of the event was the energy of our hackers,” says Ting Ting Huang, a third-year business information management major and the director of marketing for this year’s event. “Our hackers came in ready to learn [and] carried the spirit of innovation with them throughout the 36 hours.” The end result was 91 projects, including 19 award-winning hacks.

The 1st Place Best Overall award went to tradr, an app for storing and trading stickers depicting Peter the Anteater, UCI’s mascot. Noticing the popularity of “petr” stickers, undergrad students Iqra Abbaali, Lenah Syed and Saadia Karim from the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS), along with Safiyah Lakhany of Fullerton College, created a “Petr portfolio” app that helps users complete their sticker collection. Their award-winning hack earned each of them a Nintendo Switch Lite gaming system, thanks to HackUCI sponsor Vincit.

“Winning the top prize was an amazing feeling and experience, and it was something none of us expected,” says Karim. “It was especially rewarding because we were an all-girls team in an environment where a majority of the hackers were male.”

Representatives from Vincit, which sponsored the 1st Place Best Overall prize, stand with team members holding the Nintendo Switch Lites they won for their tradr app, which lets users collect petr stickers.

Eighteen additional prizes were awarded, from the Best Health Hack, which went to Synitheia, an app that helps users create healthier habits, to the Best Infrastructure Hack, which went to Autonomous C-Bot, a Charging Robot for electric vehicles. The Best AI Hack, sponsored by UCI’s student club AI@UCI, was awarded to Allergize, an app that lets users take pictures of their food to check and see if they are allergic to any of the ingredients. The Best Education Hack went to the Artist's Real-time Toolkit (ART), a multifaceted art creation and collaboration web app.

The HackUCI Devpost submissions page has links to all of the fun and innovative hacks as well as the full list of awards, including Best Joke Hack and Best Life Hack! You can also see some of the hackers in action in a video played during the closing ceremony.

“By the end of the event, the organizers, volunteers, mentors and sponsors were just happy we could support these talented students,” says Huang. “It was very rewarding to hear attendees walk away saying, ‘I had so much fun this year and will definitely look forward to doing more hackathons in the future!’”

Shani Murray

HackUCI’s Record-Breaking Weekend

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Media interested in interviewing ICS faculty, students or alumni should contact Matt Miller at (949) 824-1562 or via email at