Second Hackathon brings immersive technology, innovation to CSU

Julia Trowbridge

Colorado State University’s second annual Hackathon invites any students interested in virtual reality to participate in the 48-hour competition to explore how immersive technology transforms learning and community.

The CSU Hackathon, a competition where teams of 3 to 5 people are challenged to create a virtual reality experience, encourages students to think of the research or community applications this immersive technology can offer. From Oct. 20-Oct. 22, teams will create an experience with advice from virtual reality experts.

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Hackathon information:

The event, created last year by the Vice President of Research Alan Rudolph, was inspired by his previous work in the field of virtual reality and the impact it can have on society.

“When I came to CSU, I had already seen the transformative power of this platform and technology,” Rudolph said. “I knew I wanted to continue working with this.”

For its opening year, Hackathon participants mainly consisted of computer science majors that had attended CSU for a couple of years already. Of those currently signed up this year, freshman through seniors are represented fairly evenly, and studies range from journalism to botany to mechanical engineering, according to Lauren Klamm, the communications and event coordinator for the Vice President of Research.

“I’m excited to see different ideas from different experiences and backgrounds,” Rudolph said. “Social sciences, artistic and creative works, and technology converge in this space of virtual reality. It’s an unusual thing to see happen.”

Last year’s Hackathon was deemed a success, according to Rudolph. Among the teams who participated, one of them created what became a prototype for an anatomical immersive project that was taken on by a CSU professor for further creation. Another team used the technology to create a program to help people get over phobias by slowly immersing them in an environment they feared and allowed them to become more comfortable. Faculty members approached Rudolph asking to expand this idea.

“The Hackathon is 48 hours of the most unusual time participants will likely spend,” Rudolph said.

The virtual reality technology has been transformational in other ways as well, according to research published in 2016 by ‘Nature’ showing the technology helped rehabilitate those with paralysis in the lower portion of their body.

Anyone who is interested in virtual reality past gaming systems can sign up online, but the event is limited to 50 students due to the amount of available equipment. Participants will be judged on their innovation and creativity Oct. 22 with an award ceremony open to the public  from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the winners of the Hackathon will be announced at 6:30 p.m. that evening.

Collegian news reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at news@collegian.com or on twitter @chapin_jules.