A look at the teams from TreeHacks 2016

Feb. 16, 2016, 11:08 a.m.

Over the course of the past weekend, The Daily sat down with several of the teams who participated in TreeHacks 2016. Below are only five of over 80 different groups from the event.


Who they are:

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What they built: 

The team programmed a search drone so that, in response to a consumer’s voice commands, the drone could learn to recognize corresponding objects through computer vision and be able to detect their presence in a camera’s field of vision. In addition, the team worked on a delivery drone. The project won one of the three final prizes at TreeHacks, “Most Technically Challenging.”

Their story:

As students at Stanford, Glaser, Gomez, Chen and Asawa found it relatively easy to make the trek to TreeHacks on the first day. Glaser mentioned that the other three hackers recruited her the day before the event due to their desire for a drone to hack on.

“I guess people come from all over the world, so I might as well make the trip across the street,” Glaser said.

TreeHacks is Glaser’s second hackathon and the first for the rest of the team. The team came up with the idea of creating consumer-friendly object recognition for drones after bouncing around a number of other ideas involving drones. In the future, they hope to use the grant they received to obtain a new drone for more efficient video streaming as well as more precise control of the delivery drones.


Who they are:

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What they built:

Sm:)e is an Android app that aims to keep a user’s mental health in check. The program analyzes a user’s most recent texts to track mood and promotes relaxation through music and photos. Through the app, the team wanted to “make mental health resources more accessible, personalized and fun.”

Their story:

Young, Xu and Srinivasan are all members of Stanford’s Women in Computer Science (WiCS) organization. Young and Xu are the 2015-16 coordinators for WiCS’ annual hackathon, HackOverflow, and Srinivasan joined the HackOverflow team as an intern this academic year. Young and Law met at a women-in-tech event while they were both in high school and, since coming to Stanford, have worked together with Xu on different projects. TreeHacks is Srinivasan’s first hackathon.

After coming in knowing that they wanted to build an Android app, the team decided on a “CS+mental health app” as a result of TreeHacks’ health and social good verticals. They also explained that they wanted to take a “less intense” approach to the hackathon.

“Our team kind of came together in the last two days,” Xu said on Friday night.

“The fact that we’re an all-female team kind of just happened organically,” Law added. “It wasn’t really planned.”


Who they are:

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What they built:

After looking at a list of projects that Stanford doctors recommended for development, the team decided on a tracking app that documents medical events in a patient’s daily life. The app’s simplicity, quick interaction and accessibility to phone metadata make it relevant to today’s increasingly technological health environment.

Their story:

As students from the University of Washington (UW), Colusso, Sethi, and Timmerman already knew each other when they started preparing for TreeHacks. Sethi and Timmerman met through computer science classes, and Timmerman and Colusso organized DubHacks, UW’s annual hackathon.

Timmerman has participated in over 40 hackathons, and Colusso, whose expertise is in web and user interface design, decided to participate in TreeHacks, his first hackathon, after organizing the second DubHacks with Timmerman. Originally considering a medical career, Sethi found her love for computer science through her passion for math and physics and her high school introductory programming class. When Daitzman’s original project plan fell through, the 16-year-old eventually found this welcoming and engaging group of students from UW on the first night of the hackathon. Although TreeHacks is Daitzman’s first national hackathon, the high schooler started hacking his freshman year.

Inspired by after hearing all of the problems facing the healthcare industry today during the opening ceremony, the team wanted to work on a health-focused project. They believe that technological innovations in healthcare have the potential to improve the changing face of medicine.

“At a lot of other hackathons, you don’t really see the resources,” Timmerman said. “It’s really surprising that there’s so many doctors willing to help you out, and it’s really cool being able to build something that could potentially live past these 48 hours.”


Who they are:

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What they built:

Flagtrip creates a streamlined, real-time travel planning experience for multiple users to pin down travel destinations and to keep track of logistical information such as flight data, Uber pricing and Airbnb stays. The team’s pitch is “Welcome to Flagtrip: a flagship collaborative adventure-planning experience.”

Their story:

Shiferaw and Tang first met in high school in New Jersey, and last year, they attended TreeHacks and HackPrinceton together. TreeHacks 2016 is Shiferaw’s third hackathon and Tang’s fifth. Shiferaw’s part of the project involved using Google’s Maps API to find locations and process data for mapping. Tang worked with Ruby on Rails and location tracking through Facebook.

“This is the craftiest software I’ve ever worked on,” said Tang, referring to Flagtrip.

Luo worked with Tang and Shiferaw last year and explained that he attends hackathons (TreeHacks is his fourth) in order to meet people and form new friendships. For every team he has been on, Luo has worked with someone he did not previously know. This time, that person was Qian.

Qian is a junior from Princeton who first started attending hackathons because she enjoys completing puzzles, which are part of the application process for HackMIT. TreeHacks is her second hackathon, and her role for Flagtrip included working on user-database functionality and webpage design.

The team members brainstormed a long list of hacks before deciding on a project that they felt was applicable to themselves and that they see as having potential for further development beyond TreeHacks.

Ether on a Stick

Who they are:

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What they built:

The team created an application that helps a group reward a person (or corporation) for doing a specific action, through a vote. This ranges from power plants being paid to clean up emissions to baristas being paid to provide quality service. Concisely, the app is “Change.org, with money,” according to Fang.

Their story:

Despite losing two of their original teammates, Fang and Hayes, students at UC Berkeley,  came to TreeHacks with the idea for Ether on a Stick. The two wanted to implement a “smart” dominant assurance contract, a specific type of contract, because they thought it was an interesting mathematical problem.

“The first 20 hours, we didn’t write a single line of code,” Fang said. “It was all learning, reading white papers and sketching out ideas.”

Through the project, the team hopes to contribute to the distributed-systems industry, particularly in economic systems.


Contact Kylie Jue at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu, Albert Zhang at albertzh ‘at’ stanford.edu, Ariel Liu at aliu15 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Isabela Bumanlag at isabela7 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Photos taken by Robert Shi, McKenzie Lynch, Tara Balakrishnan and Kylie Jue.

Click here for more stories from TreeHacks 2016.

Kylie Jue '17 was the Editor-in-Chief for Vol. 250. She first became involved with The Daily as a high school intern and now is a CS+English major at Stanford. A senior from Cupertino, California, she has also worked a CS 106 section leader. To contact Kylie, email her at kyliej ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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