Last weekend, I attended PennApps (Winter 2015). It is a student-run hackathon held at the University of Pennsylvania that happens twice a year. There were over 1000 hackers burning through 36 hours of sleepless nights, working in teams to solve real-world problems.
PennApps is the premiere student-run college hackathon and is held at the University of Pennsylvania. Over a thousand student programmers from all over the world converge on Philadelphia twice a year for a weekend of creating and learning. Hackathons are about coding together to solve real-world problems and PennApps has been home to some of the best projects ever seen at hackathons. Students work in teams of up to four people for thirty-six hours to create a web, mobile, wearable or hardware project, and show if off at the final expo, which is open to the public.
SEPTA Train from Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) to University City Stop
Penn Engineering Quad
Getting to the University of Pennsylvania was really easy. There’s a train line ($8/ticket) that runs from the airport and drops you off right in Penn’s campus area. From the train station, it’s just a couple of blocks walk to the venue. (I’d probably recommend the organizers to put signs in the future so that people like me whose phone died could find the place much easier.)
My friends and I were fascinated at the architecture of Irvine Hall. It looked like an old church retrofitted to become a theater of some sort.
The opening ceremony went well, although there were some things that could have been better.
At our hacking station with this little penguin
Penn’s campus is absolutely astonishing. There’s a lot of old buildings that are well preserved. There are more places to go to (restaurants, bars, etc.) in here than the twin-cities of Urbana-Champaign.
Long lines for food
Laser cutting, and 3D printing stations
The people in the hardware section were extremely helpful. They even volunteered to tweak and stabilize our 3D models.
Working on our hardware hack
Presentation at the expo
My team and I (Alex Choi, Vignesh Vishwanathan, and I) worked on a hardware hack. It was my first hardware project at a hackathon. Our project is called Now. It is a weather notification system that indicates the relative conditions based on temperature, wind chill and humidity data aggregation.
Here’s a video of our project (Made within the last 10 minutes before the deadline. So clutch.)
Downtown Philly Skyline
Overall, I think PennApps Winter 2015 was a success. I had so much fun tinkering with things and collaborating with extremely smart and talented people. I hope to do this again next season!