On April 28-29, Hunterdon County became a beacon for technologists, hackers, entrepreneurs, and computer science students. The first annual HackHunterdon hackathon was a resounding success, attracting participants from the county and beyond to Flemington’s Feed Mill Station for the 24-hour technology creation competition. Hunterdon County Economic Development, Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, and Flemington Community Partnership created HackHunterdon to kick off a long-term economic development effort to encourage tech sector growth in Hunterdon County.
Sam Napolitano, SVP of Engineering at Viacom and HackHunterdon mentor/judge, kicked off the event at Stangl Factory in Flemington, NJ., with a few words about technology growth in Hunterdon County. “Technology has no boundaries or end of possibilities. . . My challenge to all of you today is to help define the next evolution of technology,” he said to the 30 participants.
The hackers were then hosted by the Feed Mill Station for the around-the-clock event. Mentor John Goodwin, Engineering Manager at Facebook, led the hackers in a project pitch and team formation exercise that culminated in 11 teams, comprised in many cases of complete strangers.
Hacker Jeff Widmer, a Flemington resident and organizer of the Flemington .NET User Group, worked on Team Hometown Hunterdon, an application that provides prospective new residents to Hunterdon County a comprehensive searchable tool for data about the county. “This past weekend was a great experience and I enjoyed it very much. I have been to several tech conferences and they are not always so well organized,” he said.
The teams worked on projects ranging from Sound Medicine – Rahul Agarwal’s application that enables the Amazon Echo to read medication labels to people who may have difficulty reading fine print – to Project Main Street (Bob King, Eric Ferrer, Dennis Harabin, and Derek Duschene) – a beacon-based marketing system for small town businesses. The grand prize winning team, Open POS, developed an Open Source point of sale system that will allow small business owners to remove costs from a crucial and ubiquitous portion of their financial processing system. The three judges were John Goodwin, Sam Napolitano, and Eric Herbel, founder and President of Integrated Clinical Systems, Inc.
Brian Swingle of Team Open POS said he will be donating his portion of his team’s winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project. “Congratulations to everyone for a grand slam of a first year event!,” he said. “I had a blast and . . . am looking forward to Hunterdon County and its capital, Flemington, building on this success going forward as we lead up to next year’s HackHunterdon!”
Marc Saluk, Economic Development Director of Hunterdon County, said, “We are so grateful to our sponsors and the support of our communities for giving us the opportunity to inaugurate this exciting economic development movement in Hunterdon County. I am looking forward to growing this effort together with my HackHunterdon partners.”
“My town of Flemington is so proud to serve as the home of HackHunterdon and the heart of Hunterdon County,” said Judy Goodwin, Executive Director of Flemington Community Partnership and partner organizer of HackHunterdon.
Chris Phelan, President of the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, said, “It was so impressive to witness these incredibly talented individuals create so much in such a short time. This was a tremendous undertaking by all the HackHunterdon partners. We learned a lot, and we’ve already begun to plan for HackHunterdon 2018!” The Hunterdon County Chamber is excited about the potential new businesses opportunities and the entrepreneurial spirit that is cultivated at through this initiative.
Dr. Andrew Zwicker, physicist and Assemblyman, gave the keynote address. “What state has the highest density of scientists, engineers, and computer scientists in the country ?” he asked the packed Stangl Factory audience. “New Jersey. But when you think about innovation, where do you think about? California. . . . Why not New Jersey? And why not start it in Hunterdon County? We have biotech; we have pharma; we have amazing research universities . . . We have the ingredients. . . . Why not here and why not now?”
MVH (Most Valuable Hacker): (Oculus Rift VR Package): Bob King, Team Main Street
H3 (HackHunterdon Hacker Helper): (Nintendo Switch): Rahul Agrawal, Team Sound Medicine
Hunterdon Love – most Hunterdon-oriented project : (Nintendo Switch): Sherry Chen, Team Hometown Hunterdon
Most Entrepreneurial : (Nintendo Switch): Cody Hoffstetter, Team Open POS
Best N00bs – inexperienced hackers: (PS4s): Peter Farber, Ron Picado, Chris Kakos, Team Bot Master
NJIT Rising Star: (Continuing Professional Education Course – $2900 value): Ron Picado, Team POS
TEAM 3rd Prize: ($1000.00): Team Blue Shift (Justin Flammia, RJ Tronolone, Szola Lev)
Facial recognition software allowing police to identify individuals in real time through use of body camera footage.
TEAM 2nd Prize: ($2000.00): Team Vivacity (Nathaniel Moon, Alison Gacsi, Bishal Regmi)
Nutrition app enabling health-conscious people to set nutrition goals and stick to them and easily find foods for those with dietary restrictions.
TEAM Grand Prize: ($5000.00): Team Open POS (Cody Hofstetter, Vivek Joshi, Stephanie Moffet, Jonathan Case, Brian Swingle)
Open Source point of sale system that would allow small business owners to remove costs from a crucial and ubiquitous portion of their financial processing system.