A student-organized collaborative programming competition, or hackathon, drew 200 participants to campus in January.
Hackpoly, as the event was dubbed, opened with lectures by guest speakers Robert Rose, director of Flight Software at SpaceX, and Alex Capecelatro, CEO/founder of At The Pool, a social app for mobile phones.
Organizers then placed 50 students into small teams that spent just under 20 hours developing a new product or computer program from scratch. Participants included engineering, science, business and art students, and they developed products ranging from Vir-Cello, a low-cost cello simulator, to DrunkenEye, a computer-assisted sobriety test that scans an individual’s eyes for signs of alcohol intoxication. One team developed Bronco Scheduler, a website that helps students put together a class schedule.
Ethan Chow, one of the event organizers, said he hopes those teams will bring their products to the Bronco Startup Challenge, another competition he helps organize. The startup challenge, which is hosted by the College of Business Administration, provides seed money to winning business plans and offers a chance for students to network with potential investors.
Hackpoly was inspired by a larger event, hackMIT, which brought 1,000 students to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in October. Chow and three other Cal Poly Pomona students — Garrett Porter, Bryan Thornbury and Rafael Ray — attended that event as a team and brought home the best algorithm award for a mobile app they wrote.