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graphic of a phone application
Team HACCamino‘s web application

The programming and coding skills of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Information and Computer Sciences Department students were on full display at a statewide competition. UH Mānoa teams won first and second place in the 2021 Hawaiʻi Annual Code Challenge (HACC), an event open to all student, amateur and professional coders in the state.

Team HACCamino—consisting of students Anna Campainha, Daphne Estacio, Jerome Gallego, Michael Gainey and Timothy Huo—won first place and a $4,000 prize for an app to streamline data collection for marine animal sightings and reduce reporting errors. This app responded to a challenge by NIC Hawaii, in partnership with Hawaii Marine Animal Response (HMAR). See their project on the team’s website.

“The HACC is a great experience because of the resources, workshops and structure of the HACC that embodies a professional environment,” Campainha said. “It is a taste of the workplace and it’s important to experience something like that during undergrad.”

Estacio added, “‘Imposter syndrome’ is pretty common for people in this field, including myself. But joining hackathons, like HACC, has definitely helped me build confidence in my skills.”

Team Bloombugs—featuring students Kelly Hwang, Kylie Higashionna, Jake Hardy, Kiana Walters and Taryn Takebayashi—won the second place prize of $2,000. They also responded to the challenge, developing two apps: a mobile app, for the public to report sightings to HMAR, and a desktop app for HMAR staff to keep track of reports in a database. See their project on the team’s website.

Both teams participated in the HACC as part of junior- or senior-level software engineering course taught by Professor Philip Johnson.

“I am very proud of these teams for their hard work and the technologies they developed,” Johnson said. “It is critical that UH Mānoa computer science has a positive impact on the State of Hawaiʻi, and the HACC provides a way for our students to see how they can apply their skills for the benefit of our community.”

More about HACC

The HACC generates proof-of-concepts by coders to benefit community and state agencies at the idea-phase level, feeding into Hawaiʻi’s vibrant innovation ecosystem to promote solutions for community resilience, professional development, local job creation and building local businesses.

The competition breaks the mold of a traditional hackathon, which typically takes place over a single day or weekend. The HACC provides an expanded multi-week timeframe meant to encourage interaction between community teams and state department personnel, ultimately resulting in sustainable solutions that are appropriately matched with technologies and platforms in use or being considered by the state. Beginning at the HACC kickoff, community participants form teams and select from a list of challenges. Challenges were proposed by the Department of Agriculture-Animal Quarantine, Department of Land and Natural Resources, NIC Hawaii and HMAR, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

This work is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.

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