Makers win Best Renewable Energy Solution at Hackathon
Union College Makers Xavier Quinn, Alex Pradhan, James Hoang and Sunan Sun all participated in a Hackathon at Tech Valley Center of Gravity Oct 15th and 16th. The focus of the Hackathon was on Green Tech Solutions, and the makers came up with the idea to build a wearable Peltier module that would convert body heat to energy.
The Hackathon started at 9am Saturday morning and lasted 32 hours. It drew in hackers from all different ages, skill levels, and professional interests. Also competing were Recent PhD graduates from RPI, students, and seasoned Research and Development Practitioners from many different areas of expertise. A list of submissions and their explanations can be found here. The Hackathon was sponsored by NYSERDA, National Grid, Paper Battery Company, Workforce Development Institute, Tech Valley Center of Gravity and Troy Local development Corporation. Representatives from these organizations were mentors and judges throughout the hackathon.
What is a Hackathon? Hackathons are marathon research and development events. It is difficult to actually see a project through from conception to completion in just two days, but hackathons are about investing a lot of energy at the initial ideation stage of the project. Think about all the napkin designs you’ve done, brainstorming with friends, but never followed through with. Hackathons are like that, but so intense you are not likely to forget about the project, and are more likely to actually make something of the idea. They also bring lots of people together with similar interests. Those coffee shop napkins? Imagine if everyone in the coffee shop was doing the same thing, and you were yelling over to a neighboring group… “Have you ever used a transistor to amplify current?”, and they respond with the appropriate expertise.
Xavier, Alex, James and Sunan struggled through the sleep deprivation to take home this award. Tom Vaccaro was a mentor from Paper Battery Company, was present throughout the Hackathon, and offered a lot of valuable insight. He offered to help the team of four continue this project. Their goal was simply to get a high enough voltage from the modules so that they could store it in a capacitor, eventually powering a boost circuit. Throughout the Hackathon many ideas from mentors and spectators were discussed, and the team has lots of ideas for applying this basic alternative energy concept to products and devices. Some of the concepts discussed included powering GPS modules during ski avalanches, and bicyclists in cold weather wearing alert signals. They were also offered an opportunity to present this idea for additional funding from NYSERDA and possibly Department of Defense Funding. Congratulate these 4 next time you see them!
Press Coverage of the Event
Tech Valley Center of Gravity is Alive with Invention (Union mention)