Hack Upstate VII: The Results Are In

Hack Upstate
3 min readApr 11, 2016

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Sincerest thanks to all involved with Hack Upstate VII this past weekend. It was a tremendous thrill to see so many talented Upstate New York STEM students, practitioners and hobbyists come together, collaborate, build, break and learn. The creativity was inspiring and the level of execution was exceptional.

We encourage you to check out all fourteen projects on Hack Assist, take a look at the gallary on Facebook, and learn more about the winners below:

Peter Smith (left), Peter Vaillancourt (center), Ryan Gaus (right)

Grand Prize

The Grand Prize went Ryan Gaus, Peter Vaillancourt, Peter Smith and Mark Headd for VoteFor, a profoundly rich civic application — with nearly a dozen interfaces — which makes voting easy by allowing users to effortlessly identify polling locations closest in proximity to them. VoteFor supports the Amazon Echo, iOS, Android, web, SMS, and other platforms. The team opened with a captivating demo in which Peter Smith asked Ryan Gaus’s Amazon Echo (a prize he secured at a previous Hack Upstate), “Alexa, where can I vote in this upcoming election?”. Alexa promptly responded, audibly, with an address only a few short blocks away. The judges were particularly impressed with how the team successfully scraped public polling location data for both Onondaga and Monroe counties, structured it, and wrapped the formatted data in easy-to-use APIs. Doing so enabled the team to expeditiously build so many interfaces (e.g., Amazon Echo, SMS, iOS, Android, etc) in such a short period of time.

Timothy Duffy (left), Mike Nolan (right)

First Runner Up

The First Runner-Up prize went to Mike Nolan and Timothy Duffy for their mobile app, Beacon. Beacon allows users to light “beacons” and set impromptu meeting spots where friends can be notified of those and attend. The judges were blown away by Beacon’s multidisciplinary technology stack along with the team’s willingness to leverage React — a powerful Javascript library for building user interfaces. Prior to Hack Upstate VII, neither Mike nor Tim had never used React before.

Other Notable Projects

Zoop: Zoop, an iOS app, reveals a moment in time that normally plays too slow for our eyes to see. Zoop allows users to see the progression in a side-by-side layout as users are recording the action in real time.

All Clear: An iOS app that uses state-of-the-art technology to give users weather status information for local parks, precisely, down to the minute.

Will I Get Robbed?: A web application that uses historical crime data to determine how safe a user’s location is at any particular time in the Syracuse area.

Murder Mystery: A murder mystery game for the Amazon Echo in which friends put their heads together in an effort to identify the culprit using clues and the process of elimination.

Last but not least, sincerest thanks to all of Hack Upstate’s incredibly generous and supportive sponsors who continue to support and advance Upstate New York’s technology community.

Anxious for next fall’s event? Fight the withdrawal by joining the Hack Upstate community on Slack.

Hack Upstate’s mission is to unite and facilitate collaboration among the greater Upstate New York technology community. In pursuit, we organize hackathons, offer web and mobile development classes, facilitate talks and lectures, and ultimately help align Upstate tech talent with promising employment opportunities. To date, we’ve built a growing network comprised of thousands of Upstate New York engineers and nearly a hundred technology employers.