SOU team wins hackathon

SOU team wins statewide hackathon

A team of four SOU computer science students won first place out of 62 teams in a statewide “hackathon” last weekend after developing and coding a game they called “Laughing Stock” over two days. The HackOR event, held on a combination of online platforms, drew a total of 600 contestants with teams from institutions including the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

The game created by a team of SOU juniors – Liam Erickson, Sam Platt, Peter Jacobson and Ronin Ganoot – challenges players to try getting through a TSA terminal at a virtual airport. Once aboard their airplane, they must make various decisions, such as whether to put their bare feet on the seat (bad idea). The team described it as a “nightmare realm” of adventure games of the players’ choosing.

“Events such as this prepare our students for the workplace, where they will need to analyze the requirements for a project and develop software solutions in a fast-paced environment,” said Priscilla Oppenheimer, an assistant professor in SOU’s Computer Science Program.  “SOU prepares students for environments like this by teaching them not just to be great programmers, but also to think about what problems need to be solved.”

She said at least two other SOU students – Joshua Yoon and Jacob Golden – also participated in the HackOR event, which was held on social platforms including Zoom, YouTube, Discord, Devpost, GitHub and Oppenheimer served as one of the hackathon’s mentors, helping students with outreach and providing support during the event.

The HackOR event was founded by Joy Liu, a student who is on a gap year before starting college. Judges included both industry leaders and professors from around the state and included at least one from Ashland – Bill Saltzstein, an engineer and innovator in the medical device field. Judges said that they especially liked that the winning SOU entry was hand-crafted, with good code and excellent graphics.

Last weekend’s competition was the first statewide hackathon for SOU computer science students. The university put on its own internal event last year.