From Carnegie Mellon University Athletics
Build18, a university wide hackathon as defined by junior men's soccer player Zack Masciopinto, is a yearly event held the first week of spring semester. The event is funded by the Electrical and Computer Engineering department along with corporate sponsors and completely voluntary for students to participate.
To participate in Build18, you have to form a group of at most five people. You submit an idea in November, keeping in mind that every group's budget is $300. If the idea is approved, and most are, then students submit a list of parts totaling $300 later in November.
While the idea is conceptualized in November, students have to wait until the first day of spring semester to put the project together – and they only have a week. Teams have from Monday to Friday afternoon to build their project when they are then displayed and put to use for all of campus to see in Wiegand Gym.
This year, Masciopinto, a mechanical engineering student joined men's soccer teammate Philip Petrakian (electrical and computer engineering) and classmate Morgan Wagner, a mechanical engineering major, to build a device capable of sorting dark and light clothes.
"Every year we have brainstorming sessions before the proposal deadline to decide what to create," said Masciopinto. "This year, we got some inspiration from a mechanical iris garbage can we saw online. We took that idea and applied it to a task we all don't enjoy: doing laundry."
Added to the sorting feature, the device built had a fun mechanical iris portal type entry way for the clothes to drop into when the device detected its presence.
|Video of laundry sorter in action||Video of iris portal|
Petrakian has taken full advantage of merging his talents off the soccer field with his teammate by participating in the festival which started nine years ago out of electrical and computer engineering students' interest to spend time on their own projects to promote the fun and playful aspects of engineering.
"Build18 is all about executing a cool idea and having fun doing so," said Petrakian. "It has given me the unique opportunity to work in a technical environment with different majors, an experience I do not get in class."
While there might be pressure to build the project for display in just a week, Build18 provides students the opening to showcase projects, interact with visitors, and pursue new ideas in a risk-free environment.
"The Friday presentation day is always fun, not only because we present our project to our peers, but we also have the opportunity to view the creativity of others," said Petrakian. "Creativity comes in the form of the project idea, as well as in solving problems encountered. Often times electronic and mechanical parts don't work as expected and you have to improvise!"
Both Masciopinto and Petrakian are already looking forward to next year after participating the last three years.
"We get better each year and learn new skills every time we participate," said Masciopinto. "We'll be back next year with something new!"