For the weekend of February 20-21 2016, 487 people registered to compete at the India Institutes of Technology (Bombay campus) Heritage Association hackathon with the theme of “Ideas Come To Life”, where IEEE Region 6 was pleased to act as the food sponsor. Such a large number of participants were drawn by the exciting prize pool which included Samsung VR Headsets, BB8 Sphero robots, quadcopters by Syma, and thousands of dollars in Amazon gift cards. What might have been most impressive was the age range of the competitors: I interacted with everyone from high school students looking to join an IEEE student branch when they go on to university, all the way up to local Senior and Life Members in various societies who saw this as their way of rejuvenating their interest in technology.
Other proud sponsors included Theranos Labs, Pinterest, and Juniper Networks acted as the venue host. Uber sponsored prizes and gave an interesting presentation during the opening addresses about “Evolving the way India moves.” The keynote on Digital India and Startup India initiative was given by Ambassador Venkatesan Ashok, Honourable Consul General of India, San Francisco. International media in the form of IND TV USA and Rediff.com were present and engaged in the project evolution. My remarks about IEEE Region 6 included an introduction to our Standards body, the dozen local student branches across SFBAC, humanitarian technology in the form of GHTC, and the high density metropolitan centers for innovation that Region 6 represents: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and others. I was pleased to have several nonmembers inquire at our sponsor table about the process of joining, some for themselves and one on behalf her son at UC Berkeley!
The winning teams after the intense 36 hour event were picked from a panel of judges including representatives from Uber, Pinterest, and the Mayfield venture fund. Winning ideas were picked based on originality, usefulness, and solution to a real market need as well as technical achievement and good design. This was a great event and I hope the beginning of a long relationship between the communities of mutual interest: IEEE Members in the jurisdiction of the triSection San Francisco Bay Area Council and IIT Bombay graduates in their Silicon Valley regional chapter.
Kate Jenkins Mercado
IEEE Region 6 Student Activities Chair