U of A Students Compete in Annual ACM Hackathon, With Pranks

University of Arkansas

Left to right: Bryan Sheehan, Luke Simmons, Ogden Wells, Gavin Edens

The U of A Association of Computing Machinery hosted its annual Hackathon overnight April 1 and 2. The event attracted 76 students who divided into 18 teams to compete in the 24-hour programming contest. Teams of students competed for various prizes by developing a computer software or hardware that addressed a single prompt given to them at the beginning of the event.

Students were prompted to create something using the theme “pranks” in honor of April Fools’ Day, the day the event began. The theme was more vague than previous years, giving students the opportunity to come up with something creative. Association President Reetik Patel said, “It was funny seeing how many students considered malware as a prank. I guess it makes sense since most of them were computer science students.”

After hours of work, teams presented their projects to a panel of judges consisting of Austin Chitman, former vice president of ACM; Andrew Klaassen, manager, software engineering, JB Hunt; John Gauch, professor of computer science and computer engineering at the U of A; and Jon Downey, director of information technology for the Walton Arts Center and Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion.

Coming in first place for the second year in a row was “Hotz Fellas.” This team of four students created what they coined as “gamified ransomware.” According to team member Luke Simmons, the ransomware “encrypts all the files in someone’s personal folder, just like normal ransomware, but with the twist of winning back your files if you know enough about them. As opposed to common ransomware where you have to pay to get your files back, the program we created makes you play a game to decrypt the files! ” The team’s program consisted of two game modes: guessing the date of file creation and guessing the size of the file. Both game modes have a timer for added pressure.

“The Hackathon was very fun. With all our times combined, I’d say we only got about four hours of sleep,” Simmons added.

JB Hunt sponsored the Hackathon and provided over $ 3,000 worth of prizes, including computer monitors, noise canceling headphones, 3D printers and more. Food and drinks were served to all contestants, and 43 students went home with something from the prize pool. ACM is a U of A RSO advised by Matthew Patitz, associate professor of computer science and computer engineering.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button