First hackathon in series targets campus garden

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campus gardenThe first in a planned series of University of Washington Bothell community hackathons on Friday aims to make improvements at the garden sprouting on campus between the north parking garage and the sports fields.

The Garden Innovation Challenge during Earth Week is the work of the Hackathon Series Committee, a partnership of seven student clubs and organizations led by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers chapter and its chair Cameron Whalen.

Funded with $20,000 from student fees, the Hackathon Series aims to bring students from across campus together to address community problems in an experience that also advances their studies and career plans.

Cassie Lubenow in orange coatAbout a half-dozen students braved a cold rain at the garden April 7 for a pre-hackathon get-together to hear from Whalen and two campus partners, Grounds Supervisor Tyson Kemper and Sustainability Coordinator Cassie Lubenow.

Kemper welcomes different perspectives and the opportunity to use the garden for outdoor learning experiences. Lubenow, above in orange coat, also welcomes student-originated ideas and the possibility the garden could produce food for the campus.

Cameron Whalen speaksWhalen, left, hopes up to 90 students take part in the hackathon from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 21 in the Activities and Recreation Center. They’ll pitch ideas to a group of mentors who will offer guidance. They include the Woodinville demonstration farm Farmer Frog, RH2 Engineering, Microsoft, StormSensor and Hackster.io.

Hacks are suggested in three possible areas: watering the garden, using electronic or internet-connected devices to monitor activity or soil conditions, and thinking of ways to best use the garden for education, exploration and collaboration.

Although he is graduating and will work at the Bellevue nuclear energy company TerraPower, Whalen hopes the hackathon series will continue in the fall. Possible ideas for hacking include Bothell transportation and improving electronics recycling.


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