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PCCC Students Hack Again!

Princeton, NJ - Following up from last Falls HackPrinceton event, PCCC students returned to Princeton University for their Spring 2023 Hackathon from March 31, 2023, to April 2, 2023.

A Hackathon is a coding competition where teams of two to four coders (called “hackers”) have a limited amount of time to create a project with a goal in mind. Whether it is completed or not, projects are then judged the stand-out entries are awarded for their efforts. Hackathons allow student programmers to acquire valuable networking and experience in a short period of time.

Hackathons often have themed goals in mind for projects to follow, much like English classes give prompts. For HackPrinceton, these tracks were sustainability, interactivity (for example, video games), and disruption (meaning anything related to Web3).

HackPrinceton started on Friday with an opening ceremony, which showcased all of the possible prizes, the code of conduct, and a brief word from one of the primary sponsors. Verbwire, an Application Programming Interface (API) that is aimed at streamlining development for Web3.

After the opening ceremony, the teams were off! Hackers could choose to either attend one of the many “how-to” lectures or spend the entire 48 hours coding to their hearts content. There was no set schedule that attendees had to follow, aside from attending the opening and closing ceremonies.

On Day 2, most teams continued with coding their projects, while some visited the town, and others attended more lectures. The massive thunderstorm that rolled over Princeton caused phones to beep simultaneously with the emergency alert notification, one of the few unique events to occur on Day 2.

Sunday was the third and final day of the hackathon. Projects were due bright and early at 8:30 and the judging began at 10:00. The participants used this time to demonstrate their projects to the sponsors and student judges. Once judging concluded, the closing ceremony started at 1:30.

In comparison to the Fall 2022 HackPrinceton, PCCC students noticed an apparent decreased budget: the food was subpar, and this left PCCC students to order their own food and eat at local shops instead of eating the provided food. Dinners for two of the three nights were cold falafel sandwiches with pita bread, and the Hackathon struggled to feed all the students who visited.

The overall winner, PolyglotPro, made by Chris Beloglazov, Stefan Elez, and Ishaan Poojari, utilizes GPT4, Whisper API, and Google Cloud Text-to-Speech to assist in learning new languages. The program currently supports English, Russian, and Spanish, and has the potential to scale to more languages. For their efforts, they each won a Meta Quest 2.

PCCC students Swapnil Deb, Nidhi Paten, Tyler van Buren, and Daniel Plog worked together to create Water Proof, which, according to their website, “records pH data of water using a sensor, pushes that data to a public record, and makes that data easily accessible through a front end while allowing users to sign up for notifications regarding changes in water pH.” Their team’s project won the award for the “Best Use of the Verbwire API”, netting them each one hundred dollars’ worth of Verbwire credit for future use, as well as a cash prize of $200.00.

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