Last weekend 40 participants gathered in the Innovative Media Research and Commercialization Center (IMRC) to compete in the Entrepreneurship Club’s first annual “BlackBearHacks” University of Maine Hackathon.
Competitors from six teams worked for three days straight, from 6 p.m. Friday evening to noon on Sunday, to perfect their innovative solutions on the event’s theme “Food, Oceans, and Renewable Resources: Innovating Maine’s Heritage Industries”
The winning team was poised to receive a cash prize of $500 and an entry slot into the competitive UMaine Business Challenge. Team Aquabuddies, led by first-year electrical and computer engineering student Nick Aiken, created an aquaponics system inside a fish tank which won them first place. Other teams were RIPD, ByteME, Three Brown Lobsters, #pc and the Loafy Boyz
The Hackathon was an interdisciplinary event with competitors from a diverse range of backgrounds and majors. Organizers stressed the need for teams made up of more than just computer programmers or engineers. The judges for the event reflected the interdisciplinary attitude; they included Professor Jim McConnon from the School of Economics, Vice President for Innovation and Economic Development Jake Ward, Innovation Engineering Outreach Coordinator at UMaine’s Foster Center for Student Innovation Angela Marcolini and Devin Cook, organizer of MIT’s “Inclusive Innovation Competition.”
The Entrepreneurship Club put a lot of work into organizing the event, the first of its kind at UMaine. Club members Austin Kidder and Liam Wade designed T-shirts for the event along with team members who printed stickers for the event and procured a number of sponsors including the IMRC Center, The Maine Potato Board, LaJoie Growers, the UMaine College of Engineering, Ray’s Electric and the University Credit Union.
Entrepreneurship Club President Niche LaJoie hopes people will see the success that this year’s hackathon was, and encourages more entries from even more backgrounds next year.
“As a club, we organized this event so that students had the opportunity to make new things and be creative for a weekend,” LaJoie said. “We think it was a success and we can’t wait until next year’s event!”