[email protected] host HackJam2 in newly opened Cory Hall hackerspace

hackerspace/Courtesy
Freshman Dylan Chun Wong won HackJam2 by designing a roleplaying-style game that makes Facebook posts interactive.

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For 13 hours, students packed into the newly opened “hackerspace” and created projects that they hoped would win them the championship at HackJam2.

HackJam2, which took place Saturday, allowed students to work on different projects and share them with other hackers. [email protected], a student-run organization dedicated to hacking, hosted the event for the second time this semester in the recently opened Texas Instruments Electronics & Design Lab in Cory Hall.

“We host these events to create a low-pressure environment where beginners can start out,” said Sumukh Sridhara, a member of [email protected] “Our goal for this event was to get people to work in the hackerspace and hold workshops to teach people about topics like hardware. We also wanted to foster the spirit of innovation at Berkeley.”

To win the hackathon, students had to work on a project and demo it in 12 hours, all the while enjoying the relaxed environment of the new lab in Cory Hall. The prizes for the event were an assortment of board games, plush toys and card decks. After the winner was announced, the remaining prizes were awarded through a game of musical chairs.

“We wanted everyone to feel comfortable regardless of experience with hackathons –— our hackjams aren’t intended to be competitive,” Sridhara said.  “Having it at the new hackerspace in Cory was great because we had access to a hardware lab right next door.”

The eventual winner of HackJam2, freshman Dylan Chun Wong, said he regularly attends hackathons because he sees them as a learning experience as well as fun events.

“This was my first solo hack — it encourages me to persevere, because each event lets me rack up more experience,” Wong said.  “I’m a regular participant at hackathons held by school organizations, and this one was no different. I find events like this are the best place to learn something new.”

Wong’s project, Pixel People, involved a roleplaying-style game that allowed players to walk around and talk to “spirits.” In the game, the spirits’ speech is actually Facebook posts pulled from the player’s Facebook feed and can be “liked” from within the game.

Among the other notable projects were Circles!, an application that creates screensavers for graphic calculators, and Bartwith.me, an application that allows people to find friends riding the BART train at the same time as them.

As the lab is open to all students, many chose to work on other projects without taking part in the competition.

“This hackathon wasn’t only for competitors but also for those who just wanted to work on their own projects,” said freshman Abhinava Singh. “It’s a very relaxing environment that makes it easier to get work done.”

Contact Seif Abdelghaffar at [email protected].