Chapman University’s Computer Science Club (CS Club) competed in the University of California, Irvine’s annual hackathon, Hack at UCI from February 11th to 12th, 2023. The hackathon was an intensive, 36-hour coding competition between 49 teams, each from different universities across Orange County. “Best Real Estate Related Hack,” a category sponsored by CoStar Group, marked CS Club’s third hack category win for the 2022-23 academic year.
In the previous semester, the CS Club won categories in two other hackathons: HackWashU, hosted by Washington University in St. Louis, and SacHacks, held in Sacramento, CA. The teams won “Best Security Track Hack” in HackWashU and “Best Overall Hack” in SacHacks.
At Hack at UCI, Chapman’s CS Club members were among the 200 students who participated in the hackathon. Their team consisted of Computer Science majors Gillian Canicosa ‘23, CS Club President Michael Masakayan ‘23, Tyler Kay ‘24, and UC Santa Cruz Computer Science student, Frances Fletcher ‘24.
“It was my first ever hackathon,” Canicosa said, “and I was doing it with people who had previously done quite a few. I was really nervous that I’d be unable to contribute. But I talked to my dad, and he said ‘it’ll be fun!’ That really changed my mindset and helped me pull my weight.”
One of the hack categories the team aimed to win was “Best Real Estate Related Hack.” The team utilized React.js in order to code their winning hack, OpenHouse. The idea for OpenHouse came from Fletcher, who thought up a social media app with swipe-right features similar to dating apps but for the purpose of finding homes. Canicosa spoke about the practicality of the hack. “We were immediately hooked with the idea, and the more I worked on it, I thought, ‘wait, the real estate industry really does need something like this.’”
Due to the time constraints, the team cautiously used up every minute and worked day and night on the code. “We finally got the app working the night before. It was mainly credited to Michael and Tyler who got our main feature, the swipe feature, working. I thought we had a really good process going for the hack overall, and felt we had really good communication,” Canicosa said.
Masakayan also spoke about his experience at Hack at UCI. “My favorite part about the hackathon was working in a team of four and meeting new people in the same major as me. I definitely think I improved my skills in teamwork after having this experience. I also enjoyed learning about different technologies I didn’t know, like React.js and Angular, in a short amount of time,” he said.
Soon, many more hackathons will take place across southern California. For instance, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) will be hosting the largest and oldest southern California hackathon, LA Hacks 2023, on April 21-23. Some members from CS Club were accepted to participate in the April hackathon.
In the meantime, if students are interested in learning more about hackathons, there are many organizations on campus where students can get involved in. One of them includes Chapman’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE), who attended TreeHacks 2023, hosted by Stanford University. Masakayan was also kind enough to share his tips for students looking to get involved.
“Learn how to build a website. Prepare before and get your templates ready. Join the Computer Science Club, too, so you can be on teams with people from our school. But also, try to be okay with failing,” Masakayan said.
Cover Photo – pictured left to right: Frances Fletcher, Gillian Canicosa, Michael Masakayan, and Tyler Kay