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By: Saad Ejaz

DeltaHacks, an event organized by the HackitMac, held their second annual student hackathon at McMaster University on Jan. 16 and 17. The event proceeded with great momentum as over 300 students across Ontario came together to hack for positive change.

Beginning on Saturday morning, teams from different disciplines worked together for 24 hours to create a hack for positive change. A number of professionals, including doctors and professors, assisted the student-led teams. Coding mentors were also present, and helped students apply their ideas.

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The event was focused around encouraging students to build and hack for social change. This could include health and wellness, sustainability or education.

The event yielded a total of over 50 unique project submissions. The winning project was a healthcare initiative by “Hips Don’t Lie”, a team of three: Mushfiqur Rahman, Hassan Muhammad and Stephen Murray. The trio worked with a McMaster orthopediatrician to create a web-app that uses x-ray images to diagnose a physiological condition known as femoroacetabular impingement through image processing algorithms.

Mohamed Fouda, a member of HackitMac, explained that the initiative started with the intent of creating positive change. “Here at McMaster we have great attention to social impact … we have a society program, we have Engineers Without Borders, we have Doctors Without Borders … we thought, okay, our hackathon should focus on projects that have a meaning to them. So we tried to encourage students to not just build anything, but try to give a thought before building, for a problem your hack would be able to solve,” said Fouda.

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Students were encouraged to continue refining and building their projects even after the competition. Melissa Lam, a second year mechatronics student and a member of HackitMac, stresses on the importance of trying new things. “You got to go out and try new things … you got to give it a try, you got to fail,” she said. “You got to see the road, and that’s what university is for, to go out and do new things.”

Fouda added that the group hopes to do more in the future. “In terms of our long term vision, we have hit our milestones but we are still far from [finished]. The reason why we have HackitMac and DeltaHacks is because we are trying to create this community of people here at Mac just building stuff. They are trying, they are failing, and then they are trying again and then they are failing again … And they keep learning from mistakes and keep building … collaborating between different faculties, backgrounds, they share knowledge, they innovate and they build and solve problems.”

The team at HackitMac and DeltaHacks has received a great response and support in their first two years. They hope to continue inspiring groups to take on new ideas and work towards positive change.

Photo Credit: Jin Lee

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