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Vipul Telang/ The Avion Newspaper. A Student hard at work on his HackRiddle Project

The Third Annual Major League Hackathon at Embry-Riddle

Collin Anderson/News Editor

Embry-Riddle’s third annual, 24-hour hackathon, HackRiddle, was full of food, fun, and unfamiliar faces.

On Nov. 11, people from not just all over the state, but all over the nation, flooded the Willie Miller Instructional Center to compete in the coding competition. Students from many states were in attendance including participants from Florida, California, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Not only was there diversity in people, but there was diversity in coding languages as well. These ranged from C, C++, JavaScript, Python, and more.

The competition is conducted in teams. The teams have the liberty of coming up with a unique solution to a problem of their choice. The guidelines for the contest are simple: there are none. Teams must, however, make sure that their project involves coding in some way. Despite all the teams working for 24 hours, there are breaks for food and games. Throughout the night, people were eating burritos and granola bars. In the early part of the evening, people gathered in the auditorium for cup stacking game and t-shirt giveaways. After these events, the groups did not dither in getting back to work.

Bridget Woodye and Matt Inkeles are two computer science sophomores from the University of Central Florida. They were using a Leap Motion controller to develop a software similar to speech-to-text. The only caveat was that a person would use sign language and the program would translate signs into readable text. Woodye’s first hackathon was KnightHacks at UCF two months before HackRiddle. As for Inkeles, HackRiddle was his first hackathon. Embry-Riddle student Andrew Matievski’s team was developing a way to integrate augmented reality into air traffic control. The group was trying to incorporate Microsoft’s HoloLens in tracking airplanes inflight and on the taxiway in real time; a similar idea to what Flightradar 24 offers currently.

The competition has been steadily growing in popularity since its inception in 2015. HackRiddle is organized by the student organization, Tech Eagles, and is partnered with Lockheed Martin and Rockwell Collins. In its first year, HackRiddle was contained within the Lehman Building atrium with only about 30 students attending. Last year, that turnout increased by a little over 400-percent with 165 people in attendance. The increased participation allowed HackRiddle to upgrade the venue to the IC Building, where competitors were given free rein over all the classrooms on both floors as well as the auditorium. The turnout for this year dropped slightly to 130. That drop is, in part, because the original date of the hackathon was slated for Nov. 4, which became a hurricane makeup day. Next year, the organizers are looking to bigger and better things, hoping to host HackRiddle 2018 in the new, and much anticipated, Student Union.

Despite the name, the event is not only for those in the software field. “HackRiddle is for everyone,” says Jeremiah Lantzer, one of the event organizers. “I think hackathons, and Major League Hacking in general, have done a really good job of including everyone and making sure, whether you are within the tech world or whether you’re outside the tech world, everybody feels very welcome and they can feel that they’re in a space where they can learn rather than feel that they have to be the best of the best.” The inclusiveness spread beyond the IC Building when the organizers donated the extra Chick-fil-A sandwiches and Moe’s burritos to the

Shashwat Acharya/The Avion Newspaper.
A HackRiddle competitor bursts through his winning cup tower after winning the cup stacking competition.

local homeless shelter.

HackRiddle is one of many hackathons that is supported by Major League Hacking (MLH). One out of 37 MLH coaches is at each hackathon. Kelly Mahoney was the MLH coach at this year’s HackRiddle. MLH provides thousands of dollars in hardware to the competition, as well as signage, stickers, t-shirts, and a multitude of other things. MLH also matches students looking for jobs with companies like Qualcomm, Carfax, and BNY Mellon. Mahoney explained that MLH, and the hacking world in general, is growing at a significant rate with MLH doubling the number of events from last year to 300 events this year. She added that MLH was hosting 13 events this past weekend around the globe.

Like any large event, there were some minor hiccups. However, this crowd is looking forward to finding the errors
and debugging for next year.