Hacking Together A Better Tomorrow

group shot of HackNYU participants

This was the seventh year of HackNYU; an international multi-campus tradition that strives to bring out the best and brightest in our community. HackNYU 2020 took place at NYU Tandon School of Engineering and brought together hundreds of students, from a variety of disciplines. Uniting them in the spirit of innovation and friendly competition.

The hack began on the evening of Friday, March 6 and went until the following Sunday. During this time students worked in tireless collaboration to develop websites, applications, and other technological solutions to the world's most complex and persistent issues. Solutions that could win them a variety of sponsored prizes; from impressive companies like Facebook, Redbull, and Contrary Capital.  

HackNYU was more than simple competition. It was a unique opportunity for individuals in STEM to engage with their peers and develop new skills in an environment designed to stimulate creativity in curious minds. 

smiling students watching presenter in dark room

The  MakerSpace at Tandon was charged — with passion, intellect, and more than a little Redbull. However, while the sheer talent of the individuals at HackNYU was striking, ultimately the success of each of the 53 projects being judged was due to the formation of highly specialized, communicative, and supportive teams. 

Several students graciously conceded their precious time to explain their projects and engage in a conversation about this unique experience. Competitors came from all backgrounds, and many had traveled to NYU from as far as Toronto. Their varied motives for competing were as interesting as their impressive final projects. 

Cindy Zhang, a student at NYU Tandon studying mathematics, spoke passionately about the varied skill sets at work within her team, and how this event was a rare opportunity to engage with like-minded peers, whose abilities motivated her to widen her own range. Nisha Sukumar, an NYU student studying computer science, approached the hackathon as a way to engage with other students. A fun opportunity to network and develop new ideas in an environment dedicated to teamwork and innovation. Other students, like the cool and confident Chioma Nzeduru, another of Tandon's own, were there simply to "flex the muscle" — and see what they were capable of under pressure. 

four female competitors smiling for the camera

Ultimately, these students were all capable of amazing feats. Notable winning projects were:

  • Cruise: An app designing to locate ideal paths for bikers in cities; to ensure their safety by helping them avoid unsafe streets.  
  • Seed-it: An app designed to help small investors invest in small businesses, so that investing is opened up to more individuals of varied incomes. 
  • Re-Grocery: An app geared towards stopping food-waste by creating an option for grocery stores to sell food after its “best by date”, at low cost to individual shoppers. Stopping the cycle of grocery stores tossing perfectly good, and safe to eat, foods.

For its competitors, this hackathon was a crucible wherein bold ideas might find form or fall apart. Although not every project received an award, each participant walked away having built upon their existing abilities, gained new skills, and established valuable connections. That is to say — they’re ready for next year.

Leigh Green 
BA, Sociology
Class of 2021