Hacks with Friends 2020: Envisioning solutions for today and the future

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  • Hacks with Friends attendee eating and talking.
    2020 HWF attendees enjoyed great food and networking in the Ross School of Business Winter Garden. Click the image to view more photos from 2020 HWF. (Joel Iverson, ITS)

The sixth annual Hacks with Friends (HWF) welcomed 123 IT and technology professionals and advocates (including four students) from across Michigan IT to the Ross School of Business on March 5 and 6. This year’s event had the most diverse representation of units and groups from any previous year with 22 different affiliated groups involved from three of the four university campuses.

Day one of the 2020 HWF kicked off with a welcome by Dr. Ravi Pendse, U-M’s VP for information technology and chief information officer, followed by the formation of teams. Attendees collaborated across 14 teams to create unique and amazing hacks related to research storage; parking; diversity, equity, and inclusion; sustainability and others. Each team built their hack from scratch to completion during the two-day event and presented a 3-minute pitch for public voting the afternoon of the second day following encouraging remarks by Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, CIO for Michigan Medicine. Another highlight of this year’s event was an update from the 2019 Hacks with Friends winning project team, ContaMiNot. Project leader Jule Krüger and members of her team walked through the progress they have made in further developing their app over the last year.

The 2020 HWF planning committee introduced additional awards this year based on feedback received during a HWF breakout session at the 2019 Michigan IT Symposium in November. The new People’s Choice, Broadest Reach, and MacGyver awards were awarded based votes by audience members in attendance for the 3-minute pitch presentations and those watching via livestream. The planning committee also gave a Collaboration award to the team made up of members representing the most units at the university.

Catch a glimpse of all the action that took place at the 2020 Hacks with Friends event. (Video: Rachael Wojciechowski, Adam Wright, and Joel Iverson, ITS)

The top four finalists from the public vote proceeded on in competition with a 10-minute presentation to our distinguished panel of judges: Kedra Ishop, vice provost for enrollment management; Scott Arnst: director of information technology services, UM-Flint; and Jeremy Nelson, director, XR initiatives for the Center for Academic Innovation. The judges praised all the teams for the viability of what they created and for the effort behind the solutions, for not only finding a single solution but envisioning how the solutions could scale in the future.

The 2020 Hacks with Friends Winners

Click on the team name to view a list of team members and to watch each team’s 3-minute and 10-minute presentations.

Read a first-person perspective on HWF written by Greg Kostin, a programmer/analyst with the University Library and a participant for several years. His goal of winning the coveted Gold Hard Drive award remains unfulfilled, but he remains hopeful: “Yeah, I know, I’m dreaming, but hey, I’ll already be the next year’s winner just by participating.”

(updated April 3)