Computer science students win big at Xilinx Hackathon

Computer science students from Colorado School of Mines won big at the Xilinx Technology Showcase & Hackathon 2017, taking first and second place in the tech company’s coding competition earlier this month in Longmont. 

Twelve student and industry teams competed for 30 straight hours, using a Digilent PYNQ-Z1 dev board to develop working code for an application using the open-source, Python-based PYNQ framework. 

The winning team, Mines’ Team Questionable, developed an automated parking lot assistant to help Mines students looking for a parking spot on campus. The application, PARQYNG, employs motion detectors to sense car movement and determine whether a car is entering or leaving a lot. 

Questionable team members Jack Rosenthal, Sam Sartor, Sumner Evans and Daichi Jameson also produced a YouTube video to explain the idea.

Earning second place in the competition was Mines’ Team Snapback, which developed a webcam-equipped hat to capture happy moments. The propeller-hat application recognizes smiling faces and then triggers the capture of a short video clip that is wirelessly sent to the cloud for later viewing. Inspired by one of the team member’s grandmothers, the project aimed to help people dealing with memory retention problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease. 

Snapback team members were Nhan Tran, Huan Wang, Billy Brickner and Tyler Quast.

“I was a bit intimated at first, because there were various participants who are industry professionals, with  20 years of experience in embedded systems, FPGA programming, machine learning, electrical engineering),” said Tran, a senior majoring in computer science and president of the Mines Robotics Club. “I learned a lot through working 24 hours (minus sleeping time) on this project and interacting with Xilinx people as well as fellow hackers.”

The other projects in the competition included a voice-controlled mobile robot, a face-recognition system, an “air keyboard,” a real-time emoji generator and a sound localizer inspired by the LIGO gravitational wave observatories.

Colorado School of Mines students after winning the Xilinx Hackathon

Emilie Rusch, Public Information Specialist, Communications and Marketing | 303-273-3361 |
Ashley Spurgeon, Assistant Editor, Mines Magazine | 303-273-3959 |

About Mines
Colorado School of Mines is a public research university focused on science and engineering, where students and faculty together address the great challenges society faces today - particularly those related to the Earth, energy and the environment.