Hackathon 2019 to bring success

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author: taylor balfour  | news writer

hack into the mainframe / jeremy davis

The annual event to bring another year of innovation and education

With January rolling around again, that means that for Emerging Agriculture, it’s time for their annual Hackathon event. 

Emerging Agriculture is the group known for scheduling the Hackathon annually, and is noted as hoping to “[connect] agriculture, commerce, computer science, and engineering students with industry professionals to create technology-based solutions to pressing issues faced in Canadian Agriculture.” 

It’s also noted that Emerging Agriculture is home to “Canada’s first and largest, agricultural-based, two-day hackathon.”  

But what exactly is a Hackathon, and what does it entail, Coral Willness, President of Emgerging Agriculture, expalined the event 

“A hackathon is traditionally a collaborative computer programming event; our hackathon is focused on agriculture, so we identify agricultural issues and devise technological (software, hardware) solutions,”  

“Our hackathon spans over two days: on Friday night we have a keynote speech and idea pitches, and then participants work on their solutions all day Saturday.” 

The goal of the event, according to Willness, is to give assistance to computer science and engineering students by giving them networking opportunities, as well as, in general, hoping to expand technology in the industry. 

“The purpose of our hackathon is to advance technology in agriculture. Our goal is to bring together students, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals to collaborate and innovate agricultural technology.” 

The ways in which the event goes about accomplishing these goals is by discussing and highlighting “issues in the agricultural industry” and then proposing various software and hardware “tech solutions” to assist with the issue. 

According to their website, the challenge of the event comes when “participants will be given a fixed number of hours to launch a design before presenting it to a panel of industry professionals.” 

“We hold our hackathon annually in January of each year,” Willness continues. “This is the fifth-annual event – Canada’s first and largest agricultural hackathon. The event began as a way to connect agtech entrepreneurs to resources, such as other people in the industry, or funding and mentorship opportunities. We still strive for these things with our hackathon.” 

In 2018, the Hackathon had over 50 attendees, “Nine participants, five panelists,” and “four judges” according to their results report. The first place prize in 2018 was delivered to Erik Tetland, Ben Lewis, and Kulani Zwane with what they dubbed the “CropShot.” 

The invention presented was “an in-field time-lapse photography unit to increase efficiency of crop surveillance,” the report claims. 

“They identified the issue of crop imaging, which is difficult to scale. Their solution incorporates automated collection and streaming of crop images and time-lapse images in a robust interface.” 

With the Hackathon encouraging more students to think outside the box, be creative with their learning, and propose new ideas for the future of agriculture, it’s no wonder the event has been deemed as such a success, both to students wishing to further their education, and the agriculture world hoping to advance even farther. 

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