Sussex computing students take two podium places at the UK’s premier student hackathon

First- and second-year Informatics undergraduates attended the largest student-run programming event in the UK this week and took two out of the three top spots.

The Studenthack V podium: Alessia Nigretti, Peter Lloyd, Sam Kennard (on the left) and Rohan Bhayana (on the right).

The 5th edition of StudentHack V was held in Manchester over the weekend of 10-12 March.

Student teams were mentored by industry experts, and the event was sponsored by many well-known tech companies. This year there were over 400 participants from all over the UK and from overseas.

Rohan Bhayana (BSc Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, year 2) won the track sponsored by Twilio for a hack using the Twilio application program interface. Rohan’s hack uses Twilio’s programmable SMS facilities to receive a text message and send a reply that rewords the message in a humorous, archaic style inspired by Joseph Ducreux (an unorthodox portrait artist in the court of King Louis XVI). Rohan also took second place overall.

Third place overall, and top in the Education track, was the team of Alessia Nigretti (BSc Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, year 2), Peter Lloyd (BSc Computer Science, year 1) and Sam Kennard (BSc Computing for Digital Media, year 1). Their hack (called STORM) aims to use technology to spread awareness of mental health issues. It continuously adapts an interactive experience (through scenes displayed by a computer game engine) based on a user’s heart rate, ingeniously measuring this from their finger using a smartphone camera and torch.

Alessia says: “We were really happy about it and were really proud to have conquered two out of three spots on the podium.”

Alessia and Peter are hackathon enthusiasts, and have previous successes. In November 2016 – as part of different teams with other Informatics year 1 and 2 students – they won two different tracks at HackJunction 2016, the largest hackathon in Europe.

(article by John Carroll – Professor of Computational Linguistics)

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