Over the weekend of January 15-17, UCLA IEEE and Theta Tau presented the seventh annual Idea Hacks hardware hackathon. The theme was Home Applications; and this year it was held virtually with the students working from home. Students created products and devices using the hardware components provided, either by themselves or in teams of two. The hardware included arduinos, FPGAs, Raspberry Pi, WiFi, Bluetooth, as well as 3-D Printers, soldering equipment, drills, tape, hammers, etc. The hardware kits were sent to the students prior to the event. The IEEE and Theta Tau organizers and other volunteers were available throughout the event to help the hackers with any hardware or software issues.
Sponsoring companies included Texas Instruments, Qualcomm, Advantech, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Physical Optics Corporation, Cambridge Global Ventures, iSTEM Without Borders, Bella Pita Mediterranean, and Chipotle, Mamma Chia, and Monster Energy.
More than 80 students participated in this 36-hour event. Thirty-six teams finished the competition; and a team of 13 judges, including alumni and IEEE colleagues, reviewed the designs. Among the designs were devices to help plant lovers remember to water their plants, devices to help students on Zoom alert others in their household that they were busy, and devices to help homebound students with their workouts. Many teams included first-year and second-year students.
All projects are listed here and the winners are marked with the “WINNER” tag.
The winning teams were in the Motion Box category: Brady Ankenbrandt & Courtney Gibbons with Zoomsday Clock, which is a warning indicator for video conferencing. It displays a red light if the user is in a meeting and reports how much time is left. A wave of the hand reveals when that meeting ends, https://devpost.com/software/zoomsday-clock. In the Audio & Visual Box category: Bryan Wong & Kathy Daniels with bud,which is an IoT gardening assistant that helps the user optimize and grow their plants to their maximum potential, https://devpost.com/software/bud-pq9jdr. In the TI Box category: Olivia Loh with myPlantMonitor, which is for plant lovers who forget to take care of their plants, https://devpost.com/software/myplantmonitor.
The students really enjoyed the opportunity to build devices that demonstrated their creativity and challenged their hardware and software skills in a short period of time. The company representatives commented on how impressed they were with the students’s hard work, and the overall excellent organization of the event.