Kent State hackathon winners generate new ideas, technologies, inventions

Elizabeth Randolph

Three HacKSU members work to bring different ideas to life throughout the year and share them all over the country in hackathons, a competition where computer programs and those involved in software development work together.

Since its creation in 2012, HacKSU has worked with many students creating ideas and learning new forms of technology.

The group meets every Thursday and is lead by founder and senior computer science major Daniel Gur. Robin Bonatesta, a junior double major in fashion merchandising and computer science; Paul Dilyard, a junior digital sciences major; and Mitchell Gillespie, a junior physics major participated in Kent State’s Fashion/Tech Hackathon in February, a first for the university. Bonatesta said she has participated in several hackathons and likes the fact that other schools came out to Kent State for the Fashion/Tech Hackathon.

“I think it’s so cool that other universities come to Kent for our hackathons,” Bonatesta said. “You get to meet different people and network.”

Bonatesta and Dilyard teamed up for the Fashion/Tech Hackathon. The team created “Brava,” an app that tracks when men are staring at a woman’s chest instead of her face. Bonatesta said the idea was a joke at first.

“Me, Paul and our other teammate Chris knew we wanted to work together for this hackathon but didn’t have an idea,” Bonatesta said. “We were brainstorming ideas and kind of joking around and the idea just happened.”

Gillespie said the Fashion/Tech Hackathon was the first hackathon he participated in, and he didn’t expect his idea, Miracle Sole, a running-shoe sole that would improve running form, to win.

“I had no idea I was even going to make the shoe sole,” Gillespie said. “I just went into it, and it happened.”

Gillespie said the shoe sole was the beginning of him pursuing wearable technology as a career.

“I submitted my product from this hackathon to another competition already,” Gillespie said. “I’m seeing how it’s going to go right now.”

Dilyard said he’s participated in several hackathons since coming to Kent State, but the Fashion/Tech Hackathon has been the most challenging one.

“The fashion aspect of it was very different for me,” Dilyard said. “We also had to use more hardware things and in other hackathons, we use a lot of software.”

Dilyard said being a part of HacKSU has helped him meet people with similar interests.

“You get to meet a lot of people in your field,” Dilyard said. “Not only do you learn stuff in there by yourself, you actually grow as a person by teaching other people.”

Bonatesta said she will be taking over as president of HacKSU next year and said the current presidents have been helpful to her in her college career.

“The three guys that started HacKSU have been really inspiring to me,” Bonatesta said. “They have really helped shape who I am this past year.”

Dilyard, Bonatesta and Gillespie said they want to continue to promote HacKSU and hope it grows more in the years to come.

“We go to a lot of the intro classes and other things at the beginning of the semester to support the group and recruit new people,” Bonatesta said. “Our members are just as involved with other groups on campus, I think anyone that’s in HacKSU is a part of an inspirational, creative group.”

Contact Elizabeth Randolph at [email protected].