LIVE BLOG: PROFHacks 2017 pits students against each other in ‘hackathon’


That’s a wrap on ProfHacks 2017. Thanks for following along during the live coverage of the event.

Update 4:00 p.m.: The results are being announced at the closing ceremony, which is also being held in Boyd Hall. In system engineering, Battlebot wins the day. In business, Expediter emerges victorious. And for sensor journalism, Elysian Hand Touch wins. A2b win’s the hacker’s choice prize, which is voted on by other competitors in attendance. There are also several other prizes awarded.

In the final results, IT Simulator 2017 wins 3rd overall. A2b comes in second place overall. And the overall winner on the day is Expediter who takes first place overall.

Update 2:30 p.m.: The top teams in line for prizes have moved over to Boyd Hall, a recital area located in Wilson Hall. After making their final presentations, it will be time to see who came away victorious. This is what it all comes down to. On Super Bowl Sunday, before

Teams wait to make their final presentation before prizes are awarded. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

either the Patriots or the Falcons win the Lombardi Trophy in Houston tonight, victory will be declared in the second annual ProfHacks competition.

Update 1:45 p.m.: One of the biggest problems plaguing social media today is fake news. Or “alternative facts” if the euphemism is preferable. One team here is looking to change the way people online see these sites with a new plug-in for chrome. It’s called “Crooked News Network” and it alerts users when they visit a site known to be untrustworthy. Tim Smith, a junior computer science major from TCNJ explained the thinking behind the idea.

“The idea actually came from our third team member, who’s not here,” said Smith.

He explained that the team member had been seeing a lot of questionable sources online, and so that became the topic of their group’s project. The team aggregated a list of 300+ sites from another website that curates a database of fake news and entered them into a plug-in.

Smith continued to explain that when users install the plug-in and click on a site that is on the list, it will alert users about that, allowing them to browse with more confidence in the news they see.

Update 12:15 p.m.: Judging has begun here in the new wing of the building at Rowan Hall. Students have set up at the tables that correspond to the team numbers they were given at registration. There’s a sense of anticipation in the room, as each team sees what the others were working on. There is a rush of activity as computer monitors are plugged in, circuits are rejoined, and displays flash to life.

Students begin displaying their projects for judging in Rowan Hall. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

It’s 11:00 a.m. The teams must now stop working and have their projects posted.

Update 10:30 a.m.: After a long night of coding and programming, some groups find that the reality of their project doesn’t always measure up to the concept.Tin Buzancic is a member of one of those groups. He’s a senior computer science major here at Rowan, and his group was working on an Android phone app that would allow you to find food trucks in the area and call them to you, which the group called Foodr. As Buzancic said, there was one big hurdle that stood in their way.

“..We got the whole entire user interface working,” he said, “but there’s stuff called databases, and that’s what really messed us up. We didn’t have a guy who specialized in it.”

Despite the setback, Buzancic says he and his friends had a lot of fun, and that working overnight with his two close friends was a fun way to spend a weekend.

Good morning! it’s about 10:01 a.m. and the whit is back here at Rowan Hall for day two of coverage at ProfHacks 2017. Keep following along for the final day of building, the closing ceremony, and more.


This concludes day one of coverage here at Rowan Hall. Follow along tomorrow morning for the second and final day of ProfHacks 2017.

Update 9:00 p.m.: The final event of the evening is powerpoint karaoke. In this friendly competition, players will give a presentation on a random powerpoint, but the catch is, they don’t know the topic until they first turn around and see the slides. And it’s the job of the audience to pick the powerpoint topic. Each volunteer who has gone so far has gotten a nice mixture of laughs and gentle heckling. It’s a fun capper to a long day of activities, and it seems like as good a time as any to wrap up coverage for the day.

Volunteers step up to play a game of powerpoint karaoke. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

Update 8:30 p.m.: It’s getting a little late here in Rowan Hall. Teams are several hours into their hacking and show no signs of slowing down. The organizing committee made sure to stock plenty of snacks for the teams competing here tonight. One person who thought ahead brought a video game system and a monitor which people are currently using to play video games. We’re nearing the end of day one of coverage here at ProfHacks 2017.

Two students play a video game at ProfHacks as a volunteer watches them. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

Update 7:15 p.m.: The third and final workshop of the night is underway and is about how to use GIT (a software tool) and GitHub (a hosting service for GIT). Simply put, it allows teams of multiple developers to work together in a collaborate and share that information with as many or as few people as they choose. During the lecture, the presenters also used the time to show developers at the workshop several tips, tricks and shortcuts to help them in their development.

Update 6:15 p.m.: All the hackers have stopped for a dinner break. The thing to know about ProfHacks though is that it doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. The competition continues all through the night, as teams race to finish their creations. As a result, not only will dinner be provided, but there will also be a midnight and 3:00 a.m. snack, as well as breakfast available.

A slide demonstrates the main programming goals of HCI. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

Update 5:00 p.m.: The second of the three workshops today just let out. It was about Human/Computer Interface, which is a topic dealing with technology like Siri, the robotic assistant on iPhones. Simply put, the end goal of Human/Computer Interface is to allow people to operate a multitude of devices with as little as a voice command or a flick of the wrist.

Update 4:45 p.m.: Mike Foye is a junior mechanical engineer who has an interesting passion on the side. In his spare time, he’s a ballroom dancer and a member of the Rowan Ballroom Dance Club. Now, with ProfHacks underway, he’s found a unique combination of his interest and his major that may just win a prize. He and his team are hacking a Microsoft Kinect bar in order to create a program to help teach people the finer points of ballroom dancing, even without a partner nearby.

While the Kinect normally has a system that tracks a person’s relative position in space, Foye and his team think that modifying the system is the key to the whole project.

“We’re using basic body tracking, so it’s tracking the major joints in the body,” he said.

Foye himself will be stepping out in front of the motion capture process to get the correct steps, utilizing his time with the Rowan dance team, as well as at the LaPierre dance school here in Glassboro. And as for the dances that people will be learning?

“We hope to get the six major dances of American ballroom dance,” he said. “In smooth [dancing] waltz, tango, foxtrot, and in American rhythm, cha cha, rumba, swing.”

Presenter Nick Felker begging his program about how to use MLH hardware. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

Update 4:00 p.m.: The first lecture of the afternoon just let out. All lectures are being held today in the Betty Rowan auditorium. The first presentation started around 3:30 p.m. and was about how to use the hardware provide by Major League Hacking (MLH) to use in the hackathon. The presenter was Nick Felker, and he referenced technology like the Amazon Echo Artificial Intelligence, the Oculus Rift VR headset, and the Pebble smartwatch. In his presentation, Felker talked about the internet of things, a term used to describe the multitude of electronic devices that can send and receive signals from other electronic devices. He said that using these devices, and much more provided by MLH could help teams stretch their projects even further.

Update 2:30 p.m.: Another Rowan student competing in this year’s ProfHacks is Chris Kelly, a junior management information systems major. He’s competing in his first ProfHacks. He says he was drawn to compete by the chance to learn new technology and hang out with friends.

“We don’t know what we’re doing [yet]” he said. “I’m working with particle, don’t really know what it does yet but it’s pretty cool. You can mess with the LEDs on your phone and stuff.”

Kelly says there’s nothing cool happening with his group just yet, but that they’re getting there.

Tom Gracie (Left) and Katherine Purachev are the co-leads for ProfHacks. They’re in charge of the event and its planning. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

Update 1:00 p.m.: Katherine Purachev and Tom Gracie are co-leads for the crew of volunteers working ProfHacks this year. Both Purachev and Gracie are junior electrical and computer engineering majors.

When Purachev was interviewed, she said that there was a ton of planning that went into hosting this year’s ProfHacks.

“It has been five months,” she said, “so a lot of work and a lot of it has gotten done in the past week.

She also noted there was one big thing she learned how to do after watching preparation last year.

“Last year, I don’t think they gave enough work out to other people. I think they just tried to do it all themselves. And I saw from them, that’s not such a good idea. You end up super tired, so I kind of learned to trust the people that I put in charge of committees and give them more work to do.”

As for future plans for the event, Gracie said that it’s always on to bigger and better things.

“I think there’s definitely the potential to use the other building,” he said. “Every year, we’re getting more and more people at this event, and we’re going to need more and more space.

Update 12:00 p.m.: Pietro Sparacio is a freshman mechanical engineering participating in his first ProfHacks competition. He’s a student here at Rowan, and when he heard about the competition, he and his friends from colleges in the area decided to register together. He and his group say they’re looking to do something with virtual reality. His team has set up shop on the third floor of the engineering building. When asked about what he hoped to accomplish during this event, Sparacio had two main goals in mind.

“I’m just here to have fun with my friends,” he said, “and I’m excited to work with [this] cutting edge technology.”

(L to R) Rowan Students Zach Leiman (Junior), Rebecca Gavin and Lizzie Amory (Freshmen) pose with their ProfHacks shirts. -Staff Photo/Matt Kass

Update 11:15 a.m.: The opening ceremony is starting in one of the classrooms in the newly opened Rohrer College of Business building. Two large screens, one on either side of the room are displaying the logo for the event. The presentation starts off with a video clip and then leads into an introduction about what the teams will be doing during this year’s ProfHacks. Among the key pieces of information is a short information session about Major League Hacking, the organization helping to put the event on. After that finishes participants get other relevant information, including the schedule.

Good morning! it’s 10:20 or so, and teams are beginning to check in at Rowan Hall for the second annual ProfHacks event on the campus of Rowan University. Check back here throughout the weekend for a live blog on the proceedings.