Organized by Trent University students, Electric City Hacks brought together nearly 100 high school, college and university students to participate in Peterborough and Kawarthas’ largest (and only) hack-a-thon, Electric City Hacks.
The ‘hackers’—largely computer science and software engineering students—come to the event usually with just an idea and work either individually or as a group to develop a technological innovation into functional software or hardware.
After 37 hours of hacking (a day-and-a-half plus an extra hour from Daylight Saving), a hacking team from Ottawa was awarded the top prize of this past weekend’s event, Best Hack, as well as Most Innovative Hack and Best UI/UX Hack.
The team created SafeZone, an app that helps connect people in emergencies with people certified with first aid and CPR in close proximity, like UBER.
“We came up with the idea about a week before the hackathon,” says Hari Govind, one of SafeZone’s creator. “We were thinking about what we could create that would be useful and we know that wait times for an ambulance or at a hospital can be hours.”
EC Hacks co-organizers Nikhil Pai Ganesh and Sean Behan, two fourth-year Computing Systems students specializing in software engineering, said this event helps elevate the status of Trent and Peterborough as a tech-savvy hub.
“It’s awesome that Peterborough has an event like this because it’s not a big or well-known tech area,” says Mr. Pai Ganesh. “Many people don’t think of Trent when they think technology or computer science. Being from the computer science community here, we wanted to bring that forward.”
The co-organizers’ success in securing sponsorships reflects Trent’s and Peterborough’s reputation as an innovation and tech-forward area.
“We started contacting sponsors really early this year, all the way back in August,” says Mr. Behan. “Our biggest sponsor is TD Bank, but we also had the Innovation Cluster, Wolfram, Maple Soft and a lot of start-ups in Peterborough sponsor us.”
In total, 22 prizes were awarded by sponsors to teams and individuals participating in the event, and the judges of the submitted hacks were also notable technology experts. Judges for the event included Trent University professors Dr. Omar Alam and Dr. Sabine McConnell, President of the Innovation Cluster John Gillis and a data scientist from Shopify.
“The hackathon is a great learning experience for anyone who wants to come,” says Mr. Behan. “Some of the same people come back every year, and make really cool stuff every year.”