United Hacks Recap: Tackling Mental Health Challenges Through Technology

United Hacks Recap: Tackling Mental Health Challenges Through Technology

In response to the pressing global issue of mental health, Hack United organized an impactful hackathon that aimed to utilize technology as a means to improve mental health outcomes. This groundbreaking hackathon centered around leveraging technology to address mental health challenges, brought together an impressive turnout of over 400 participants, forming a thriving community of more than 600 individuals passionate about making a difference. The event's impact was magnified by the engagement of 50+ dedicated workshop attendants who embraced the opportunity to learn, collaborate, and contribute. Hack United organized 8 diverse workshops (Michelle’s Journey with Autism, Machine Learning with ML.NET, Web Scraping Using Beautiful Soup, Game Development Using Unity and C#, Introduction to API's Using Postman, Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, So What Is CoCalc?, and Data-Driven Approaches to Societal Challenges) with expert speakers on each respective topic. Our community-driven approach successfully brought together participants from various backgrounds to address this vital challenge.

Workshop Recap:

Michelle’s Journey with Autism: Michelle Vinokurov, a Special Education Behavior Specialist, shared her personal journey of being diagnosed with Autism at a young age. With a bachelor’s degree and multiple jobs, Michelle's story highlighted challenges and successes, shedding light on the experiences of individuals with Autism.

Machine Learning with ML.NET: Denis Kondratev, a Senior Software Engineer at My.Games, guided participants through machine learning concepts and real-world applications. The workshop demonstrated how to leverage Microsoft's ML.NET framework to integrate AI into projects, empowering .NET developers with accessible AI capabilities.

Web Scraping Using Beautiful Soup: Led by Alex P, a Course Instructor at Hack United, this workshop taught attendees how to use the Python library Beautiful Soup for web scraping. Participants learned to extract raw HTML and relevant information from websites, with practical guidance on applying the scraped data to their applications.

Game Development Using Unity and C#: Dmitrii Ivashchenko, a Lead Software Engineer at MY.GAMES, led this workshop focusing on creating a top-down action game using Unity Engine. Topics included Unity Editor, Game Assets, Environment, Animations, Effects, and C# scripting, showcasing the potential of Unity Engine through hands-on development.

Introduction to API's Using Postman: Lillian Nose, a Developer Advocate at Postman, demystified the role of APIs in software development. Attendees, regardless of their knowledge level, learned about Postman's powerful API platform and explored real-world cases, transformative initiatives, and the student expert program.

Ethics in Artificial Intelligence: Jayanthi Venkataramani, an International Governance expert at AM Best, led an engaging workshop on Ethical AI implementation in various industries. Participants gained insights into navigating the ethical complexities of AI and engaged in interactive discussions led by an experienced Risk Governance Director.

So What Is CoCalc?: Blaec Bejarano, the Chief Sales Officer at CoCalc, introduced participants to CoCalc's features. The workshop covered LaTeX for scientific documentation, Jupyter Notebooks, Linux Terminal, and Computational Whiteboard. Attendees also received valuable advice on academia, industry transitions, and had an opportunity for Q&A.

Data-Driven Approaches to Societal Challenges: Dr. Padmanabhan “Padhu” Seshaiyer, an expert in education, STEM advocacy, computational mathematics, and data science, led an interactive session emphasizing the power of data-driven solutions to address current societal issues.

Benefits and Sponsors:

The event's range of workshops empowered participants to gain insights, develop new skills, and foster connections with industry experts. The workshops covered crucial topics including autism awareness, AI ethics, machine learning, game development, web scraping, and data-driven problem-solving.

Hack United's success was further amplified by the support of its sponsors: Verbwire, Wolfram, Feared Media, Axure, Vue School, Streamyard, AoPS (Art of Problem Solving), Swishswoosh, .xyz, CoCalc, Interview Cake, and Echo 3D. These sponsors not only provided financial support but also demonstrated a commitment to driving positive change through technology.

Outstanding Projects and Winners:

The hackathon showcased a multitude of innovative projects, each harnessing technology to tackle mental health issues head-on. Among these remarkable creations, "Melodic Mind" by Jerry Zhu stood out for its ingenious use of the Verbwire API. The project demonstrated an imaginative and practical approach to integrating the API to enhance mental well-being.

The category of Best Solo Hack celebrated individual excellence, with Adrian Petrovic's "Reflectory" emerging as the triumphant creation. Adrian's innovative solution not only showcased technical prowess but also a deep understanding of mental health challenges and their potential solutions.

In the General category, "Capy Net" by William Namgyal secured the second-place position, showcasing an impressive blend of creativity and technical skill. The first-place General category award went to "Styled," a collaborative effort by Eric Zhang and Jeff Zhou, highlighting their exceptional ability to merge technology with practicality.

In the Mental Health category, "Mindsupport AI" by Muhammad Umer and Keyrxng Keyrxng claimed second place, showcasing their dedication to creating impactful solutions for mental health support. The first-place Mental Health category prize was awarded to "Therapal" by Nick Suh and Ethan Huang, recognizing their outstanding contribution to addressing mental health challenges through their project.

Community Impact and Recognition:

Hack United's success extended beyond the winners' circle, as it fostered a robust community of participants, mentors, sponsors, and experts, all united by their shared commitment to using technology for social good. The event's workshops, networking sessions, and collaborative atmosphere facilitated meaningful interactions, sparking new ideas and lasting connections.

The recognition of exceptional projects and the dedication of the participants underscored the importance of collective efforts in driving positive change. Hack United successfully demonstrated how technology, when harnessed creatively and thoughtfully, can serve as a powerful tool for addressing pressing societal issues.

Hack United's hackathon brought forth innovation, collaboration, and a tangible sense of purpose as participants worked tirelessly to leverage technology for the betterment of mental health. The event's impressive attendance, exceptional projects, and engaged community stand as a testament to the potential of technology to shape a brighter future for mental health worldwide.

This event has yielded success unimaginable. Participants of this hackathon should be able to look forward to more Hackathons in the future. Hack United is currently planning one, which may come to fruition as soon as next Winter! Hack United strongly believes in the transformative power of technology to shape our future, and as the world rapidly evolves, we envision an inclusive platform where everyone can learn about the exciting advancements in the tech field and the knowledge needed to continue their programming journey. We hope to you along this journey!

A Statement From the Founder:

We started planning United Hacks 2023 less than a month before it happened. Our goal was 50 participants. We only could imagine getting a singular sponsor. It is safe to say that we exceeded our expectations. Let's start with the basics. The theme of the hackathon was Mental Health (although we did have a general track), and our participants did not disappoint. There were so many cool, practical, and innovative projects, all made by high schoolers and college students, that reinforced the success of the event. Our 3-day, completely free, and online event also contained over 10 workshops and mini-events, all with cool prizes. United Hacks was meant for hackers of all skill levels, and after coding for hours nonstop, we knew that hackers needed a break. Over 100+ innovators attended our workshops and events!

However, as our core team of over 20+ expected, our hackathon wasn't only smooth sailing. From our opening ceremony being live-streamed without any practice beforehand to our closing ceremony being delayed by 16 hours due to time zone differences with our judges, we learned a lot about where to improve for next year.

I define a hackathon's success as more than just the numbers related to it. Regardless, as Dr. Padmanabhan "Padhu" Seshaiyer said in our "Data-driven Approaches for Societal Challenges" workshop, numbers are essential to analyze any type of situation. Below, see the attached quantitative recap for this year's event. Anyways, it is safe to say that this is just the beginning for Hack United. And it's only going to get better from here.

Hack United WebsiteHack United Social Media • Written By Ru Xue Jiang