8:00am April 20th, I enter the warehouse known as Making Awesome, Tallahassee Florida’s own makerspace. They were one of the 75 locations around the globe chosen to host the world’s largest collaborative 2 day hackathon, The 2013 International Space Apps Challenge. I see a friend of mine at his laptop amidst the tables, wires and people. I approach him and after the usual greetings we being the following dialogue.
Nathan: “So what project are you thinking of working on?”
Olmo: “I have no idea… I was just going to find some people working on a cool project and join them.”
Nathan: “Wow, I had the same plan…”
Olmo: “Well it doesn’t look like any of the groups here are working on a cool project.”
Nathan: “Ya… How about we just start one ourselves?”
And that’s exactly what we did.
We developed a solution to the Earthtiles challenge. Both Olmo and I work at the Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies, simply known as COAPS, and we’ve collected a good deal of experience processing satellite data, which was the underlying principle of the challenge. Shortly after we got started, a new participant approached us. It was Samuel Rustan, an Electrical Engineering student who had lofty goals of working with people on one of the cubesat challenges. After we explained our project to him, he continued perusing. I think he quickly realized there was no one at our local branch working on the cubesats, and he got a long with Olmo and I pretty well, so he came back and asked if he could join our group. We gladly welcomed him. His programming prowess was humble, but his enthusiasm was unrivaled.
We worked through the night and come Sunday evening, and come the judges to our station, we presented our work. They seemed impressed, and we were content with our presentation. After their lengthy deliberation (which was in the room filled with the cookies and snacks), they emerge to announce the winners. Our project was announced last along with a very cool board game project as the 2 which will continue to global judging.
Our Project – OpenTiles
Our project page, OpenTiles, was finished last night and will be the medium which presents our project to the international judges. Judging will end on May 22nd where the 5 award winning projects will be announced. The 5 awards are…
- Best Use of Data – The solution that best makes space data accessible or leverages it to a unique purpose / application.
- Best Use of Hardware – The solution that exemplifies the most innovative use of hardware.
- Galactic Impact – The solution that has the most potential to significantly improve life on Earth or in the universe.
- Most Inspiring – The solution that captured our hearts and attention.
- People’s Choice – Determined from a public voting process facilited through the spaceappschallenge.org website.
If we have any chance of winning, it will be the Best Use of Data award. Our project is very specialized, it’s unlikely that most laypeople will understand our project so the People’s Choice award looks improbable… Unless all of my altruistic readers vote for our project on the SpaceApps website!