CSE Sophomores Take Top Prize at SD Hacks 2016

Oct 6, 2016

At one of the largest hackathons organized by students, the UC San Diego student-run SD Hacks took place over the Oct. 1-2 weekend, attracting nearly 1,000 student hackers from UC San Diego and universities around the country (after the competition received applications from more than 4,000 students).

In the highly competitive rivalry, a team of CSE computer-science sophomores took the Best of Show prize in the 36-hour hackathon for their Re:Art app, a filter-style tool inspired by the app Prisma for processing still images, but with Re:Art, the filters apply to video content. "[We] aim to transform a video into an animated artwork by furnishing it with a particular style or pattern of paint chosen by the user," explained the team in their summary posted on DevPost (see link at bottom). In addition to the $1,000 prize, the students received another $1,000 for the Most Commercializable Hack, awarded by the UC San Diego Office of Innovation and Commercialization.

The winning team consisted of Chen Yang, Zhuojun Chen, Wanze Xie and Jianhan (Joanna) Xu (pictured at right). "This was a great experience," said Yang (at left). "In addition to building a great product, I mastered Python."  Yang and Xu recently signed up to be new tutors for lecturer Rick Ord's CSE 11 course in the fall quarter. "Their web app Re:Art turns videos into art work using deep learning and neural networks," notes Ord (see image below depicting Re:Art photo in the style of impressionist Paul Gauguin). Specifically, the students used the open-source VGG19 neural network model and Torch Framework, while achieving a non-linear video processing result through Open CV (open source computer vision). The team rounded out its trifecta of wins with a prize for Best Use of AWS (Amazon Web Services) on Amazon's EC2 cloud platform.

The Re:Art teammates were among many CSE students participating in SD Hacks 2016. Others included one of the organizers, junior Yacoub Oulad Daoud, and Andres Gomez, a computer-engineering senior who developed a mobile app to inform incoming freshmen of all the majors available at UC San Diego. Prior to the start of the competition,  CSE alumna Sarah Guthals (B.S. ’10, M.S. ’12, Ph.D. ’14) encouraged students to consider many career paths where computer science is critical. "There are many ways you can use it to contribute to our world," said Guthals. "That doesn't just mean working for a software company."

Among others, the CSE department was a major sponsor of SD Hacks 2016, as were Qualcomm Institute, the Jacobs School, Rady School of Management, and companies, among them ViaSat, whose executives on hand included CSE alumnus Nikolai Deveraux (B.S. '01), and many others. [Photos by Annie Liou Photography]

Read the full recap about SD Hacks 2016 on the Jacobs School of Engineering website.
Learn more about Re:Art and see the app in action on DevPost.

Visit the SD Hacks 2016 website.