Interest in clean technology solutions is booming, from new clean power sources to power conservation, to improving and preserving our environment. On October 15-16, Shaker Students Lukas Velikov and Wenny Miao tackled those solutions at the Tech Valley Cleantech Hackathon in Troy, NY. For 32 non-stop hours they, along with 50 other programmers, engineers, and all-around tinkerers, worked to find new applications and approaches to energy and environmental problems.
A hackathon is an event where groups of computer programmers and other STEM-oriented people collaborate intensely on projects using software, hardware, and good-old ingenuity. Hackers typically stay in the space the entire time working constantly. To help inspire the competitors, organizers of the Cleantech Hackathon have solicited problem statements from key players in the industry in the areas of Advanced Buildings, Renewables, and Clean Transportation.
At the event, there was a wide range of inventions: from a generator powered by waves, to bricks that track building energy consumption, to a energy-saving blimp. Velikov and Miao created a mobile game that uses the program interface from Pokemon GO to encourage “renewable behavior”. The game rewarded its users for doing simple tasks like taking the bus or taking the time to find a recycling bin. “EcoRangers”, and its creators won the “People’s Choice Award” for its innovative take on changing the way that people look at recycling.
The capital region is an amazing place for STEM interests and innovations to grow. Its also a great opportunity for people to grow their skills and have a good time doing good things. As Wenny put it,”I really enjoyed being able to use my STEM knowledge to create something real and useful…There were also a lot of other cool inventions and ideas”.
These hackathons inspire innovation and brainstorming on how to solve the big issues of the world. Congressman Paul Tonko, one of the Judges said “I am truly inspired by all of your work today. I want to take your ideas and energy directly to Washington in order to build a brighter future.”
The Tech Valley Center of Gravity makerspace in Troy, NY holds these hackathons almost every month, and are often funded by large and small, NYSERDA and National Grid, to the locally centered Paper Battery Company. The Tech Valley Center Gravity welcomes anyone to participate in these events, they even offer monetary prizes, and great local food.