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Computing Habitat Programming Competition 2010

5/5/2010 8:41:00 AM

The 6th Computing Habitat Programming Competition yielded 6 winning projects and doled out $5000 in prizes. The contest encourages students to develop software applications that enhance the Siebel Center’s technology-rich environment and improve student life.  The contest was sponsored by State Farm this year.

The CHPC projects this year ranged from wiki-like teaching aids to musical touch tables and from pervasive monitoring of energy usage to ways to find free food across campus.

The Grand prize of $2000 was awarded to Wade Fagen and Amanda Metz for their Net Energy Management Project, which provides a metric by which the department and the campus can evaluate energy conservation. Their project uses the campus network APIs to observe if a computer is on or off. It’s passive – there’s no need to install anything on the computer.  This network presence information can be tracked over time, to observe if people are turning their systems off overnight.

Runner-Up was awarded to Quinn Baetz, Abhishek Pradhan, and Elain Tai for their Eat Free at UIUC project. Eat Free at UIUC data-mines the campus calendars to find and promote events with free food.  It’s a social website, letting you like or dislike events, coordinate with your friends, explore campus, and eat.  Eat Free won the Best Presentation Prize, and the Runner-Up Prize for a total of $1500.

Wade Fagen was awarded 3rd prize for his second project, Wikislides.  Wikislides grew out of Wade’s need as a TA to be able to link to a specific slide from a course lecture for reference and teaching, in a format that’s easy to share.  His project is a website that crawls for lecture content and organizes it by slide. You can search and add comments to the slides such as follow-up questions or answers, links to additional information, notes relating to the exam, and more.

The Computing Habitat Prize, awarded to the best improvement of existing Siebel Center infrastructure, was given to the STELA group, comprised of Timofey Yuvashev, Soonhan Mahae Koh, Xuelai Li, Mike Xiao Liu, Joseph Subida, Alexander Morgan, Ran Cao, and Jeffrey Desch.  STELA stands for “System for Time-based E-Lock Automation”  The team worked with the department IT staff to create tools to make requesting and managing door access easier. Their goal is to create the infrastructure middleware to allow all CS undergrads to have Siebel e-lock access. They’re also an example of an undergrad class project competing in the CHPC.

The Judge’s Prize was split between two teams, Tacchi Table and jiNews. 

Tacchi Table, created by RJ Marsan, Jessica Metro, Misha Slaven, Jake Mcginty, Alex Paul, Chris Kurtz, and Alek Storm, is a 46” LCD mounted horizontally, with multi-touch support.  Imagine a giant iPad you could stand around with your friends and interact on the same screen. Except this isn’t an iPad. The hardware design and software is open source and available. Their Computing Habitat entry is a software framework to allow people to develop applications for this table. Tacchi table was also awarded the Best Undergraduate Research prize at Engineering Open House this year.

jiNews, a 100% HTML and Javascript based newsreader, was created by Sukolsak Sakshuwong. Course newsgroups are a large part of the online habitat for CS students, and different interfaces to newsgroups are popular Computing Habitat projects.  jiNews is brower-only (no Flash or Silverlight plugins) compatible across OSes, it loads quickly, and has a modern and almost gmail-ish friendly display style.