Dylan Sun/Mustang News

Approximately 23 teams competed in the Second Annual Design and Dev Hackathon this past weekend, with the $600 first-place prize going to {575}, an app which allows users to create and share poems based on geolocation.

Samantha Sullivan

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In the true spirit of interdisciplinary activities, this past weekend’s Hackathon birthed a hybrid between the arts and technology: The app {575} placed first in the Second Annual Design and Dev Hackathon.

{575} allows users to create and share poems based on geolocation, team member and graphic communication senior Andrea Hernandez said. Users can post poems to the app so others can view them in a feed based on the location they’ve checked into.

The app does not focus on popularity, comments or likes, but instead on location and the emotions elicited from the poems, Hernandez said.

“We’re really trying to create an art form around our town, and it really can be anywhere around the world,” she said, “so when you visit that space, you feel like you are a part of something artistic.”

Computer science sophomore and team member Kyle Piddington originally came up with the idea. He was mainly inspired by GeoCaching, a global GPS-based treasure hunt of sorts where people leave behind boxes of stuff or notes for others to find.

“I kind of wanted something a bit more accessible than that but I still liked the idea of finding things that are placed by local people,” Piddington said. “So, I kind of wanted to do that with maybe poetry or art or something like that.”

The name {575} was inspired by the structure of a haiku — three lines of five, seven and five syllables, respectively. However, the app does not limit users to writing only haikus.

While the team did not make a fully functional mobile app, they did make a proof of the concept. The geolocation aspect and the length of the poems are some examples of things the team is still developing, Hernandez said.

This was the first time Piddington developed anything for an iPhone — he usually works with Windows. What impressed him most, he said, was how much he could learn about a new hardware in 12 hours.

“I’m really excited to try new things, and starting learning about new technologies, he said.

Additionally, Piddington took away the knowledge that as a programmer, he needs designers to help make a successful app, he said.

“My initial sketches were really terrible compared to the final products the rest of my team members came up with,” he said.

The biggest takeaway from this experience for Hernandez was how the team identified their individual strengths and put those strengths together to create a product that was “unique and user friendly,” she said.

Hernandez only knew one person on her team of five. The way teams form is very spontaneous, she said. Someone might have an idea and draw it out on a poster board, then they’ll say they need a developer or designer or other member. Hernandez said the teams sort of gravitate together.

“It all just kind of fell into place,” she said.

Approximately 23 teams participated in Hackathon. Some teams were as small as two or three members, while others were as large as six or seven members. Hernandez estimated there were approximately 170 to 180 people in attendance.

{575} also consisted of computer science sophomore Jacob Johannesen, graphic communication senior Shannon Reilly and business administration freshman Nick Nish. The prize for winning was $600, which the team split.

Hernandez said the team worked very well together and didn’t argue, which surprised her. She said the bond between the five team members was stronger than a class group project, because they weren’t competing for individual grades but as an actual team. She had to really trust those “strangers,” she said.

“You really just have to trust that there is value in your teammates’ abilities and talents,” she said.

Piddington said that Hackathon was the third such event he has attended, but it was the shortest. He has attended Game Jams, which last between 24 and 48 hours, but he mostly worked with other developers there. At Hackathon, he enjoyed working with other majors and said he would definitely participate again.

“Absolutely,” he said. “I love these kinds of events.”

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