Nest, an iOS game app, won the first-place prize in this year’s Hack Rice 8.5 Hackathon. The competition among 70 experienced and novice hackers, took place March 1-2 at the Liu Idea Lab for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Rice University.
Nest was designed by Timothy Goh, Nathan Park, Colin King and Amanda Lu. Nest helps students explore new areas of the Rice campus.
“We were very happy when we found out we won. All of us were first year computer science students and had little to no experience with iOS stack, so we didn’t know what to expect,” Goh said.
Nest uses geo-fencing, a technique where a virtual perimeter is established around a geographic area. Whenever a user enters or exits that region, they trigger an event in the app.
Nest users hatch virtual eggs as they earn badges. A user can earn the Fondy Fanatic egg by being in the Fondren Library for 36 consecutive hours. If a user attends cultural table events at Rayzor Hall 3 times a week, they earn the Rayzor Sharp egg. The game rewards users with Talons, or points, that can be redeemed for gifts such as a free drink at Rice Coffeehouse.
“We pulled an all-nighter and we were proud of our app, but we also knew we were competing against several upperclassmen teams so we were definitely really surprised when we heard our team announced as the winners. We believe the reason we did well is because we are very passionate about our idea. We are excited to have won but are even more excited to see the impact our app will have on the Rice community,” he said.
HackRice 8.5 encourages novice hackers to experience the competition in a friendly environment. Chromemo, a note-taking Google Chrome extension, won the prize in the First Timers Track category. Chromemo was designed by Shreya Nidadavolu, Angie Chen, Angela Liu and Alex Ho.
“Personally, coming into Hack Rice with absolutely no experience, I had no intention of winning. I only wanted to experience what it would be like to participate and take away some learning experiences,” Liu said.
“There were many times I felt frustrated at my lack of progress in the project. I joked about us just leaving instead, but pushing through these obstacles definitely paid off when we were announced as the winners,” she said.
No one was more surprised at the group’s win than Alex Ho. When the competition portion ended, he left the event to buy food in the Student Center. The night market was already closed so a friend gave Ho a tray of noodles. When he returned, organizers were announcing the event’s winners. As he settled in the back of the room, a friend told him his group won their category.
"I thought he was joking and said ‘Ha! Sure, you're funny.’ My friend shook his head and turned to a friend sitting next to him and said, ‘He thinks I'm joking.’ I gave him a suspicious look and went to find my team. When I saw my team, I also saw that each member was holding a Google Home Mini. I just stood there for a few seconds with my tray of noodles in front of everyone as I realized we had actually won!” Ho said.
George Dyre, HackRice 8.5 co-chair, said the hackathon encourages students to work together.
“Another great thing about HR 8.5 is that we have a really large participation from freshman. Having completed roughly 1.5 computer science courses, it is really inspiring to see them come out and try to learn new things for this event,” he said.
“I hope each participant experienced some kind of growth, be that in literal computer science skills or interpersonal skills. We want our hackathons to be welcome to those that don't necessarily have the most experience coding, but are willing to learn and grow. I also really hope that they had fun, because that is what it is all about,” Dyre said.
HackRice 9 will be held Sept. 20-22 in the Rice Memorial Center.
HackRice winners: First Place Nest by Nathan Park, Timothy Goh, Colin King and Amanda Lu; Second Place Gradu8.5 by Jason Hwang, Jeff Hwang, Frank We and Terrence Liu; Third Place RSize by Chatham Abate and Tim Cheng; First Timers Track Chromemo by Shreya Nidadavolu, Angie Chen, Angela Liu and Alex Ho; FinTech Trach CryptoGame by Paul Jiang, Sunghoon Jang, William Yam and Pranay Mittal.
Cintia Listenbee, Communications and Marketing Specialist in Computer Science.