HackED Beta gives tech “newbs” a chance to try out a hackathon

This past November, the University of Alberta’s Computer Engineering Club held its fifth annual HackED Beta — “Alberta’s friendliest beginner hackathon,” of which Cybera was a proud sponsor. The 24-hour coding competition is geared towards beginner programmers who are either in high school or the first two years of post-secondary education. It aims to provide a safe and welcoming environment to learn new skills and gain hands-on project experience.

This year, 57 students joined the online event, where they worked in teams to create a fully-functional software solution to a common problem. The participants also had access to several workshops to aid them in developing their skills. This included a session led by Cybera’s data scientist, Laura Gutierrez Funderburk, introducing participants to Python, a programming language that almost all the final projects ended up using.

Ultimately, 13 teams presented their completed projects to the judges. The solutions they developed included a web platform that more accurately matches health symptoms with possible health issues, a ski hill information application, a tool for booking study space on campus, and an air travel planner. 

The top three projects chosen by the judges were:

  1. A website that helps users create sustainability goals (e.g. for recycling frequency, or using eco-friendly transit), and achieve points for reaching those goals. The team plans to extend the site to include a global leaderboard, allowing people to not only compete for bragging rights, but also learn about the sustainability choices others are making.
  2. A web app that uses logistic regression-based machine learning to predict the likelihood of a user having a cardiovascular disease. Its goal is to inform people who are at risk of cardiovascular disease to seek treatment sooner.
  3. A database management tool that helps prospective students decide which post-secondary institution to attend. The web platform used web scraping to collect information on average tuition fees, salaries of graduates, and quality of life ratings at various Canadian educational institutions. 
Screenshot of the winning team's task management tool, for setting sustainability goals
Screenshot from the winning project, which developed a sustainability goal manager

“I was thoroughly impressed by the caliber of these projects,” says University of Alberta student and HackED Beta organizer Noah Batiuk. “Many teams had members with no project experience whatsoever, and what they managed to put together in only 24 hours was far beyond what I expected.” 

“The second place team, for example, began with virtually no web development experience, but after dedicated learning and following online tutorials, they managed to put together something that earned them the next-to-highest spot in the competition. 

“I was also surprised by the number of teams who tackled machine learning. There were at least three teams that built predictive models based on public datasets. From what I could see, the dedication of the participants, bolstered by the fantastic mentors and workshops, led to some truly spectacular finished projects.”

For more information on the hackathon visit HackED Beta’s website.

For a complete gallery of the project submissions, including the winning solutions, visit the event’s GitHub page.