Penguin Hackers at YSU

By Courtney Hibler

Youngstown State University students worked together in the DeBartolo Stadium Club Room to create diverse technology projects such as 3D printing and 2D video games during the fifth iteration of HackYSU.

The Youngstown Penguin Hackers have been putting this event together since 2015 and continue to welcome students of varying majors to participate in the annual hackathon over a course of three days.

Anthony Hake, treasurer and assistant organizer of HackYSU and junior information technology major, said the idea of this event was developed by YSU alumnus Joe Duncko.

“He liked the idea of an environment where students could come together with anyone and create something great,” he said. “The event is a lot of fun and holds a large amount of creativity.”

During HackYSU, students have 36 hours to create a technology product of their choosing. Some creations include software, hardware, a business plan or art.

Hake said the most impressive creation he has witnessed at HackYSU had won “Best Use of 3D Printing.”

“It was a program that translated typed text into braille and gave you a file that could 3D print a plate that had braille written on it,” he said.

Ralph Streb, director of HackYSU and computer information systems major, said a project that stood out to him was a Pac-Man first person virtual reality shooter. The group created a virtual reality game using a smartwatch to move in the game.

“It was quite interesting and impressive,” he said. “The projects students create never fail to amaze me or the judges.”

Streb said prizes for this year’s event included an Anker Battery pack, a Raspberry Pi Zero W, an Amazon Echo input and a large number of high-priced Amazon gift cards.

“For judging and mentoring, we receive help from our YSU professors and we have financial support from our department to make this event possible,” Hake said.

Kriss Schueller, computer science and information systems professor, was one of the judges for HackYSU in 2017.

In his opinion, HackYSU is a great way for students to put forth their best abilities to create something unique.

Harsh Shah, a freshman computer science major, said he had been to previous hackathons before attending the event at YSU and enjoys learning and creating something new each time.

“My fellow teammates and I created a 2D video game through scripting,” he said. “The judges thought our creation was impressive and we were chosen to give a presentation at the end of the event.”

In his opinion, being placed in a random group during a team building event is an important aspect of HackYSU because being part of a team is a strength everyone needs.

“This event is free and students don’t need any prior experience to attend,” Hake said. “All you need to be is a student willing to learn and experience the creativity HackYSU has to offer.”