Hack the IRL Event Uses Various Sectors for Solutions

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“It takes all kinds” is a popular phrase that has been featured in music and literature.

It’s also the approach of the organizers of the inaugural Hack the Indian River Lagoon event, taking place this Friday through Sunday at Groundswell Startups, 2412 Irwin St. in downtown Melbourne.

The 36-hour event brings together students, academia, lagoon experts and technologists to collaborate and develop solutions to help fix the ailing Indian River Lagoon. The event starts Friday at 5 p.m. and ends Sunday at 1 p.m. and features workshops, expos, tech talks and a presentation from Jacob Waites, the visual and interaction design lead IDEO CoLab’s Cambridge Studio. There will also breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the event.

Registration closed Oct. 21. Admission to the event is free.

Florida Tech will be represented at the event, as the school’s hacking team, Team Zero, other students and Kelli Hunsucker, assistant professor of oceanography, will be in attendance. Hunsucker has signed up to be a mentor from 5:30-11 p.m. Friday.

Hunsucker sees the event as a chance for Brevard County’s diverse mix of scientists, engineers, environmental advocates and others to come together to develop solutions for restoring the Indian River Lagoon, nearly three quarters of which is within the county.

“Everyone has a different area and skillset,” Hunsucker said. “What I like about Hack the IRL is that it allows people with different skillsets who are working on the lagoon to try to develop a solution.”

Hunsucker was alerted to the event via Groundswell’s social media posts. She then reached out to the organization to see how she could be assist. CEO Micah Widen suggested she serve as a mentor.

The unpredictability of a first-time event can make for an exciting experience, as the opportunity to interact with individuals in sectors not their own can lead to a collaboration of ideas and processes. Hunsucker mentioned being interested in meeting professionals from different fields and seeing how they take the problem and develop a solution.

“My brain thinks as a scientist, but engineers can design things or computer scientists can do all this stuff on the computer that I have no idea how to do, so I’m really excited to work with other people and see their thought processes and some of the final projects that come out of this,” she said.

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