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Can you hack it? What it takes to win Ohio State’s 24-hour hackathon

Michael Behm (middle) and Derek Boyer (Right) accept their prize for “Most Impactful Application”. Credit: Michael Lee | Lantern Reporter

The results of Ohio State’s fifth annual 24-hour hackathon are in, and a parking app and an eye-tracking controlled computer mouse took home some of the event’s top honors. But you don’t have to be the next Mark Zuckerberg to win, according to HackOHI/O 2017 judges.

Roman Holowinsky, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and a hackathon judge, said there are many aspects that make up winners in the categories.

“Having something which is already showing some level of ease of use from a third party, something that is functional, something which demonstrates that the team worked well together, that the technical level was very high — they’re all things that you take into consideration,” Holowinsky said.

Derek Boyer and Michael Behm, second-years in computer and information sciences, won the
category of “Most Impactful Application” with their web app “ParkMe.”

The app helps people find and also rent out parking spots to others in cities where parking is limited, Behm said.

“You can register into our app and either call yourself a renter or a vendor,” Behm said. “A [vendor] sells a plot of land they have or a lot they have so other people can pay them and park in their spot.”

“It’s for the entrepreneurs in the area,” Boyer said. “If you don’t have a car, why not sell your parking spot and make some money on the side?”

Other categories to win include: “Most Original Hack,” “Most Impactful Application” and “Best Software Hack,” among others.

Behm and Boyer said being prepared will help participants do better.

“Come with an idea,” Behm said. “Things go a lot smoother if you already know what you want to do when you come in, and do a little research beforehand and figure out what you want to do.”

Boyer said consistency and effort is key to success.

“Just be passionate about your idea, because originally, we were like we don’t meet any of the challenges, but we really love this and we’re going to work on it, and [applying for judging] ended up working out,” he said.

As for Holowinsky, he said he feels people should just show up and try the hackathon, regardless of their skill level.

“I think the whole point of this kind of thing is to just come out and see what you can do. It’s a no-judge zone even though you’re judged at the end of it,” Holowinsky said. “The whole point is that you just go and try something new and see what you can accomplish in a 24-hour period.”

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