Return to Headlines

Students Develop Innovative Applications During Pine-Richland's First-Ever Hackathon Organized by Students


Pine-Richland High School students organized and led a successful hackathon called “Hack the Ram.”  Seniors Arjan Guglani, Lauren Juncal, and Justin Waltrip, and junior Daniel Krill developed, organized and launched PR’s first-ever hackathon on February 9, 2019, which was held from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Teacher Val Klosky served as the sponsoring teacher.  In all 80 students participated in the hackathon.

Smrin Guglani,  a 2016 PRHS graduate, took the opportunity to come back to help organizers. She is a student at Carnegie Mellon University.

 “These events are a popular form of collaborative problem-solving where participants form groups of up to four to bring an original technology idea to life,” said Daniel.

Students teamed up in groups of four and had the opportunity to attend seminars to try new technologies, get help from experienced programmers, or just learn more about whatever interested them. Some of the topics  included "What is a Hackathon?" 101; Intro to iOS Development with Swift; Intro to Android Development with Java; Intro to Web Development; Connecting your creations to the Internet with Firebase; Javascript 101; Zero to App in 60 Minutes with Swift; Zero to App in 60 Minutes with React Native; and "Making Robots Move" - Hack The Hardware Lab.

Professor David Kosbie, associate teaching professor, from Carnegie Mellon University’s computer science department, served as the event’s guest speaker. He gave students some important advice in whatever you do.

“First, be in the game,” said Dr. Kosbie. “Be in the moment. Secondly, do something that has meaning for you. Finally, make something better for a few people around you. Be real. Do something meaningful.”

The overall theme of the project was “Hack for Education.”  Participants were tasked with creating technology that could help other people learn.

The winning project was an application called QR Pass. QR Pass allows students to use their phones as a digital hall pass by scanning QR codes at different locations around a school and recording their time.  Team members included Pine-Richland High School eighth-grader Brandon Wees and ninth-graders Colby Patrick, Luke Waltrip, and Carson Kopp.

Second-place winners included North Allegheny Senior High School students Josh Zhou, Anchey Peng, Akshana Dassanaike,  and Ali Saif, who created an application that could take pictures of two essays and see their level of plagiarism.

Third-place winners created a website that could help teach the younger generation about the stock market through interactive lessons. Third-place winners included: Pine-Richland Middle School seventh-graders Damon Ivanov, Yash Shah, Dante Pittorina, and Avyukta Nagrath

“Our team was most impressed with the quality of beginner projects,” said Arjan. “We noticed that people with zero coding experience walked out with fully functioning games and projects and were genuinely excited about computer science.”


Rachel Hathhorn