Halloween-themed 8th Annual ProfHacks Hackathon provides fun real-world experiences


Streamers and decorations brought life to the typically mundane Engineering Hall last weekend as Rowan University hosted its eighth annual ProfHacks Hackathon. However, this time around, the event had a spooky twist.

Each year, ProfHacks sees its participants get into groups and compete against each other in a fun and spirited competition to win various prizes and gain real-world experience. The idea of this 24-hour-long competition is to see which group can combine software and hardware in the most useful and creative way to come up with a final project that fits the overall theme. 

With Halloween being this year’s theme, contestants had to choose between three tracks to revolve their project around. The options were Ghosts of ProfHacks future, Count Hackula and Werewolf Hack. Ghosts of ProfHacks Future projects would have to be based on sustainability, Count Hackula projects would have to incorporate old technology into a new idea and Werewolf Hack projects would have to focus on multi-functionality use.

This year, a group of four engineering students created a standout project to help people with disabilities eat food.

Thomas Rasa, Tyler Walsh, Christian Cipolletta and Mathew O’Donnell chose the Count Hackula track and creatively decided to repurpose utensils to solve a real issue. 

“We’ve created a beautiful innovation on the ancient technology of the bowl and the spoon. We think we’ve created something quite beautiful here, which will help many people.” Rasa said.

The group spent 24 hours coding, engineering and 3D printing the final project so it would be ready for judging. That hard work paid off, as they had the chance to not only win a prize but gained real-world experience in the process.

“I feel like it was actually nice experiencing this stuff rather than just doing a project in class,” Walsh said. “It was better to actually do a hands-on project for fun like I actually like.”

ProfHacks gave these students a chance to not only compete in a fun competition but also gave them and the other participants the opportunity to make a difference with the projects that they created.

Participants who attended the hackathon were also treated to various workshops that helped them gain the knowledge that is necessary for engineering majors down the line. Workshops like Intro to CAD and 3D Printing, Intro to Innovative Design and others helped teach invaluable skills to those who attended. 

A multitude of activities were planned throughout the weekend as well to help facilitate an exciting environment. Events like cup stacking, a planetarium show and a Super Smash Bros tournament gave the contestants a break from engineering their projects.

While everyone who attended the Hackathon was able to gain experience and have fun, the organizers of the event were able to as well.

Two electrical and computer engineering students Kevin Hack and Aidan Sharpe both had major roles in planning ProfHacks. They both gained valuable skills from helping out this year.

“Being an organizer for Hackathon and of course, concurrently being a student, means you definitely have to adapt your time management skills,” Sharpe said. “Just doing stuff like making time commitments and being responsible builds character. So, you gain a lot more skills by doing this, but you gain a lot more personal growth through it as well.”

The organizers of the event also had to make sure everything went according to plan throughout the entire weekend.

“It’s really just about being wherever and doing whatever you need to do to make sure everything is going well. You’re plugging the holes and making sure stuff is running smoothly,” Hack said.

The remarkable effort put in by the organizers lead to ProfHacks being a successful endeavor for everyone involved.

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