This past weekend I had the opportunity to serve as the technical facilitator for the HackWE code jam held at the University of Windsor.
The event was organized by WETech, with great support from the City of Windsor and the Computer Science department at the University of Windsor. Irek Kusmierczyk was the able organizer of the overall event.
10 University of Windsor Computer Science students, split into 5 teams, participated in the event. The majority of the Hackforge members who served as mentors are recent graduates of St. Clair College. We matched each team with a mentor who is currently a professional programmer working in Windsor.
Two teams were awarded a prize for their work. One for their creative use of the City data sets, and the other for their technical achievement.
Adam Heinermann and Eric Brisco had the most creative entry. They created a game which uncovers a “fog of war” as players physically move around the city, and awards achievements for players who find landmarks like parks and heritage buildings. All of the judges were impressed with the creativity of this application of game concepts to achieve community goals.
Chris Drouillard, Alex Velazquez, and Kevin Yavno won for technical achievement. They were able to create an application that works on desktop computers and phones, visualizing city data sets like ward boundaries, sidewalks and bike trails on a map. Their application also shows detailed information about locations within the city as reported by city data sets. They won because they were able to do an incredible amount of work and created a highly polished application in just 24 hours. As of this posting, you can check out “Winfo” on Chris’ web space.
Alexander Chernoukhov and Adrien Gagnon created a concept for a game with the awesome name “Windsor Garbage Zombies.” They demonstrated a proof-of-concept and vision for an augmented reality MMORPG taking place on the streets of Windsor. Their presentation was quite a crowd pleaser!
Sehaj Chawla, working under a bit of a handicap (see below), created an iPhone application designed to locate City parking lots. The app has a crowdsourcing component – users can report how full a parking lot is when they get there, helping others choose the best place to park.
Alexander Nikolic and Jordan Willis created an application designed to help Windsor house-hunters make a decision by tying together City of Windsor and third-party data to identify nearby amenities.
The mentorship team consisted of Hackforgers Randy Topliffe, Jeff Szusz, William Comartin, Ben Hohner, Dan Koss, and Lucas Jones. I really appreciate them giving up their weekend for this event, along with our hosts from the U of W CS department Steve Karamatos and Margaret Garabon Cookson.
It was a really successful event. The creativity and technical achievement of all of the students was really outstanding.
All of the technical participants, whether they were contestants or mentors, learned a lot about the way that City of Windsor geographic data works and how to work with it. Professional programmers, mainly early in their career, acted as mentors and taught valuable project management skills to the contestants.
A group of representatives from the City of Windsor (Marian Drouillard, Alison Cherko and Bob Price), Alphakor (Frank Abbruzzese) and the University (Dr. Ziad Kobti) gave up their Sunday afternoon to serve as judges.
As I mentioned above, Sehaj was limited to working with City-provided CSV files because there is not a readily-usable iOS library available for working with Shapefiles. We found “iOS-Shapefile” on Github but Sehaj found that it didn’t work with the City of Windsor data. I was inspired by all the hacking going on around me so I took a crack at debugging this library. I was able to get it working with a few small additions. I’m hosting my fork with my Github account. When I get an opportunity I’ll clean it up a bit, but even in it’s current state it should be useful.
All in all, it was a great event and I’m proud to have been a part of it! You can see photos from the event on the Hackforge Facebook page.