URI to host hack-a-thon Nov. 13-15 to seek ‘Internet of Things’ solutions to real-world problems

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KINGSTON, R.I. – November 4, 2015 – Graduate and undergraduate students from throughout the region – and as far away as Puerto Rico – will converge on the University of Rhode Island Nov. 13 for the start of a three-day hack-a-thon that will find the students identifying real-world problems they can address with technological solutions they create before the weekend is over.

Organized by Kunal Mankodiya, URI assistant professor of electrical engineering, the event is the first of its kind at URI and one of the first in the region. Participating students will be divided into three- or four-person teams and encouraged to create a prototype of a device that will solve a problem related to health care, smart cities, transportation, emergency management, or one of several other disciplines.

“We want to provide students with the opportunity to work together to create hands-on, design-focused devices that can be used to solve various problems,” said Mankodiya, whose students competed and won a hack-a-thon at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June.

The URI professor’s research focuses on the development of wearable bio-sensors. He says the hack-a-thon will contribute new devices to what technologists call the Internet of Things, a network of physical objects embedded with electronics, software and sensors that can collect and exchange data. One such device created by Mankodiya’s students, a wristband that monitors the tremors of Parkinson’s disease patients, won an international competition last spring.

Hack-a-thon teams will arrive at URI having already viewed a video that introduces the event and the project themes. The teams will begin work on their project the evening of the event’s first day, Friday, Nov. 13, and a prototype of their solution must be demonstrated in a three-minute presentation Sunday afternoon, Nov. 15. A team of judges from industry, government and academia will select the winners.

Sponsors of the event include the Slater Technology Fund, Venture Well, the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, FabNewport, and the URI Research Foundation. In addition, technology company Startup Rounds will provide its web-tools to participants, judges and organizers to manage the hack-a-thon on their mobile devices.

The student presentations and award ceremony, which begin at 2 p.m. in the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences on the URI Kingston Campus, are open to the public. For more information, contact Mankodiya at kunalm@uri.edu or 401-874-5661.