Health Hackathon Awards Prizes For Improving Mental and Physical Health

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What happens when you bring together more than 80 students, software developers, designers and healthcare professionals for 13 hours? Netsmart and Stony Brook University in New York found this out last month at the third annual HackHealth hackathon.

Organized by the university’s Women in Computer Science club and sponsored by Netsmart, the goal of the health-themed hackathon was to welcome all – from first-time hackers to both men and women – to discover ways that could promote better physical and mental health. By the day’s end, 20 programming projects were submitted and seven prizes were awarded in the categories of Best Mental Health Hack, Best Nutrition Hack, Best Fitness Hack, Best Medicine Hack, Best UI/UX Design, First-time Hacker and Most Innovative Idea.

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When asked what students liked best about the hackathon, freshman Ajay Sarjoo said, “The moment I won best nutrition hack because it was my first ever hackathon win.” Sarjoo appreciated walking away with more experience in working with new technologies and programming languages.

Others loved the social and community aspect. “Coding with my friends was the best part,” said junior Fanng Dai. Her team used languages she didn’t know, such as HTML, CSS, Python and JavaScript, to make a web application. “It was really nice to have my friends teach me [which was] completely different from learning in a class setting.”

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Being creative was a common theme. “If creativity had a home, it would be at hackathons,” said first- time participant, senior Po Yiu Ho. “Everyone does their best with whatever they have, and that’s always enough at a hackathon.”

During HackHealth, several engineers from Netsmart, as well as associates from Softheon, Applied Visions and FDM Group, walked around to assist students with their projects and gave presentations on what they did at their respective companies. Students also heard from representatives of two on-campus organizations who spoke about the impact of mental health and substance use.

According to Netsmart engineer Yuliya Astapova, HackHealth helped students showcase their skills and ideas, and was an excellent way to make computer science accessible to a more diverse group of students. Three Netsmart engineers helped judge the categories of Best Mental Health Hack, Best Medicine Hack and First-Time Hacker.

HackHealth was a success, organizer and vice president of the Women in Computer Science Club Lisa Guo said.  Of those who participated, 58 percent were first-time hackers and 44 percent were female – all of whom worked hard to find ways to promote a healthy lifestyle.

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Winners walked away with fun swag and prizes for their projects.

Winners:

NutriBuddy – Facebook chatbot that tracks nutrition semi-automatically.

Fitr – Fitness app that helps you find the perfect workout buddy. 

Data Visualization of Healthcare Services – a map that shows what areas have a lack of healthcare services

Outlook of the Mind – an interactive, informational app about disabilities

Solace – a chatbot for people with mental illness

Check out all the programming projects and individual winners.

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