My Experience at Earlham College Hackathon 2013


My name is Jean Paul Mugizi. I am a junior at Miami University of Ohio majoring in Software Engineering. Attending the Intel Hackathon 2013 has been a unique experience for me as I chance to network with students from Erlham College, Indiana University, and Miami University working together to write a data visualization board for climate trends. 

The beauty of computer science is the variety of tools available to tackle problems. There is no one set way of solving problems. We have decided to  Combine individual knowledges and divide into teams that are going to tackle pieces of the problem(back-end, front-end, and communication between the two) and fit them together at the end to produce a robust data vizualization web application. One thing that is unique about the experience is how much fun we are having doing it. During our breaks, we played ultimate frisbee, streaks 'N tips, and listened to music. 

So far, my team is working on a  back-end set up using  an SQL database holding weather data containing things such as temperature, longitude, latitude, altitude, city, state, and date/time of occurence. An another team is working on a front-end using Twitter Bootstrap, Google Maps API, and  jqplot to take the data from the database and display it visualy to show climate trends and weather patterns. 

This is definitely a fun-filled 24 hours and I have enjoyed spend time with not only  motivated and  brilliant  classmates to do something meaningful that can be used in the long-term to tackle climate change problems, but also learn from industry experts and professors about creative and innovative  ways of solving such problems. It is still a work in progress and I am hoping to get as much out of the remaining time as I have in the past 7 hours.

Update 03:00am: 

  •  PostGresSQL(our relational database) is up and running! Also, PHP 5.3 and LittleFe Server have been set-up and ready to go.We are also now able to parse data from different weather websites using a Perl script to write them in XML data representation so that they can be plotted in a database using Insert statements  We have also parsed SQL queries into JSON representations that the front-end developers are going to call in order to access that data 
  •  As far as front-end goes, a separate team has been able to make a visual climate trend using JqPlot and add three weather data components(temperature,precipitation, and Carbon Dioxide). They are now trying to find a creative way to represent those three components distinctively. For instance, they are thinking of using different colors for temperatures(red for high, yellow for medium, and blue for low) and colored triangles or square for other datas. We have still thinking various ideas of doing such representation in a manner that the user understand the best. Keep in mind that Twitter Boostrap also allows for responsive design, so this takes care of automatic resizing when moving from a computer to a tablet or tablet to smartphone and vice-versa. 


 Stay in touch for more updates soon!

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