Florida Tech Students Shine at Hack the IRL Event

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The inaugural Hack the IRL event took place from Friday to Sunday at Groundswell Startups in downtown Melbourne. It featured workshops, expos, tech talks and a presentation from Jacob Waites, the visual and interaction design lead IDEO CoLab’s Cambridge Studio.

The hackathon also featured a project competition, in which Florida Tech students from the school’s hacking team, Team Zero, enjoyed great success. In separate groups not related to Team Zero, students won first, second and third place, in addition to the Lagoon Prize.

The first-place award went to SensiDock, a sensor system that homeowners living near the lagoon can install on their docks to measure natural and human-influenced data such as temperature, pH, salinity and dissolved oxygen. SensiDock would give a more consistent analysis of the lagoon to researchers. The team included Kyle Stead, Cody Clemons, Cameron Gagnon and Gavin Friedman.

Second place’s design was LionFishSlayerNet, learning software that makes it easy to automate the identification and tracking of invasive species in the lagoon, including the lionfish. Utilizing a camera module connected to a computer, the software would make a prediction on the image, sending data if it recognizes it as the species. The team included Mawaba Pascal Dao and Josias Moukpe.

Third place was GeoData Visualizer, which uses database files with coordinate and data values such as water temperatures to build three-dimensional visualizations of the data. The visualizer was tested with several real and generated datasets and can handle over 200,000 individual datapoints. The team included Chris Woodle, Christopher Willie and Peter Tarsoly.

The Lagoon Prize winner was Indian River Lagoon Open Data, a directory for searching for various datasets organized by OneLagoon.org’s Path Forward. The directory was inspired by the City of Orlando’s open data directory. The team included Chris Woodle, Christopher Willie and Peter Tarsoly.

First place team members each won a skateboard, Oculus Go virtual reality device, MakeyMakeyGo touchpad and a Raspberry Pi computer. Second place teams won Nanoleaf starter kits, MakeyMakeyGo touchpads and Jet Brain Licenses. Third place members each won a Google Home hub and a MakeyMakeyGo.

The Lagoon Prize consisted of an Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program (IRLNEP) VIP Tour of Mosquito Lagoon. The IRLNEP will provide a half-day boat tour of Mosquito Lagoon to learn about water quality challenges and restoration activities in progress.

“I think for an inaugural event, it went really well,” Groundswell Startups Marketing & Events Coordinator and Florida Tech communications major Nicole Kern said. “All of the teams submitted awesome projects, and it’s exciting to think of how they could be used to benefit the IRL. It’d be really cool to see how these projects could help other areas and environmental situations around the country outside of just the IRL – especially LionFishSlayerNet.”

For Florida Tech graduate teaching assistant and Team Zero lead Muntaser Syed, Hack the IRL successfully addressed a critical issue for the Space Coast community.

“It really highlighted the need for developing meaningful solutions, because we essentially live in the drainage area of the lagoon,” he said. “This allowed the student community to get creative and come up with different ideas that could be implemented in helping us essentially save our lagoon and home.”

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I write about research at Florida Tech. For any inquiries, contact me at 321-674-8937 or rrandall@fit.edu.

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