Stephen Jones of the Mississippi Coding Academies Takes Home 3rd Place at MSU Hackathon 

 

Stephen Jones of the Mississippi Coding Academies, Golden Triangle location, was on the team that placed 3rd at BullyHack, a hackathon hosted by Mississippi State University.  

The hackathon took place on January 11-12 at the Colvard Student Union on MSU’s campus. BullyHack is a free hackathon event open to students of all majors or nonstudents over the age of 18. Participants had 24 hours to brainstorm and design their ideas with their team before demoing their project for a chance to win cash prizes.   

25 teams of undergraduate, graduate, and coding academy students from schools across the county competed in the 24 hour programming competition  including students from Auburn University, Georgia Tech, and students who traveled from as far as New Mexico to compete.  

Steven’s team came up with an open-source software for low-cost devices so that anyone, with any technical skill level, could set up their own personal security system in their home or office. The hardware they used included an Arduino chip to communicate with various sensors and a Raspberry Pi to act as the central control for the Ardunio. The setup is controlled via a mobile app, which sends signals to the Raspberry Pi (or whatever PC is acting as the control unit) that then converts those signals to something the Arduino can understand. These signals include arming the system, disabling, and testing.  

Likewise, if an alarm is triggered, a message is promptly sent to the user. For obvious reasons, their demo model does not send a message to emergency services, but thanks to the extra funds to modernize Mississippi’s 911 systems received in April, text messaging 911 is a possibility. This alone opens many doors, as having a 24/7 team of phone operators to transmit messages to local 911 services is no longer required. Therefore, If your local 911 center has texting as an option, a personal security system is also an option.  

While this “setup yourself” security system Steven and his team designed may not have all the functionality and features of bigger security companies, it is simple to set up, cheap to maintain, and offers the basics of other security systemsThe only requirements for their system are a low-cost computer (or Raspberry Pi), an Arduino chip, and at least one sensor. Because of this, the team estimated that one would need as little as $35 to have a small setup. 

Stephen says, “This was my first hackathon, but definitely not my last. 24 hours of almost non-stop (I took a 20 min nap) research and coding paid off in a big way for me. I haven’t had many opportunities to test my mettle outside of class, so seeing my countless late nights of studying after class/work actually pay off was a huge confidence boost. Looking forward to doing something like this again.