PhoenixHacks takes innovation to new heights at Florida Poly

Jan 27, 2020
PhoenixHacks judging
Judges learn about one of the student-created projects during PhoenixHacks, a hackathon that challenged Florida Polytechnic University students to create a software or hardware project in 24 hours.

The results of 24 hours of ingenuity, innovation, and hard work were on display after a fun and challenging hackathon competition on Jan. 26 at the Florida Polytechnic University Campus.

The PhoenixHacks event brought together students from different disciplines, backgrounds, and skill levels to show off their technological know-how and build a software or hardware product from start to finish.

“The hackathon’s main purpose is to get people to apply what they’ve learned in class while giving them a chance to learn something new,” said computer engineering sophomore Mihir Lad, director of the Phoenix Hacks committee and a native of Ontario, Canada. “We provide food and activities for breaks in the hacking so participants can concentrate, because we want to set up an environment for them to be successful and create a successful project.”

Dozens of Florida Poly students participated in the two-day event, working through the night to create apps, games, and robots.

“Sometimes the best way to learn a new skill is to be forced to figure it out in 24 hours,” said computer science junior Mackenzie Helms.

The Auburndale, Florida, native and her team created Poly Social, an app to help Florida Poly students connect with study groups, see campus activities in real time, and reserve University rooms for events and study sessions.

The 13 hackathon entries were judged by a panel of students, faculty and alumni based on their usefulness, overall organization, user experience, idea quality, execution, presentation, and cool factor.

Freshman computer science major David Kozdra was happy to have an opportunity to create an app that alerts users when their smartphone is held at an ergonomically-inappropriate angle.

“I really like to program and I need experience for my résumé as I try to get a good internship, so I needed something that’s impressive and works well,” said Kozdra, of Vero Beach, Florida. “This is going to go in my portfolio because it’s a really good idea and we made it work in 24 hours.”

When they weren’t coding, building, or eating pizza, students were able to learn more about platforms such as GitHub and Arduino, and the Python programming language.

“This is something everyone at Florida Poly should try at least once,” said Damar Sierra, a freshman majoring in computer science from Parkland, Florida. “It’s life-changing – you open your eyes to what your future could be and get inspired by the people around you.”

Phoenix Hacks Winners

First Place: A Mediocre Text-Based Game – The text-based adventure game slowly manipulates users into divulging personal information to be sold to advertisers. Team members are Trinity Brinkley, Benjamin Dinal, Mitchell Wilson, and Joseph Giordano.

Second Place: Stylish Meteorologists – The Alexa Skills and Internet of Things (IoT) device helps make sure a person’s outfit is appropriate for current weather conditions. Team members are Zachary Peltzer and Michael Perez.

Third Place and People’s Choice Award: Swiper Space – The application helps job seekers easily search and apply for jobs with a swipe of their thumb. Team members are Kyle Thomas, Casey Dixon, Samantha Lerner, and Connor Jack.

Lydia Guzman
Director of Communications