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SBU News > Events > Eighth Annual Hack@CEWIT Shines a Light on AI

Eighth Annual Hack@CEWIT Shines a Light on AI

Hack cewit 24 group

Hack cewit 24 group

Each year, The Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) hosts an annual on-campus hackathon, Hack@CEWIT, that brings students together with core industry partners, sponsors and entrepreneurs to explore scenarios that will have a direct, real-world applications. The event also provides students an opportunity to work on real industry-relevant solutions and facilitate relationships with companies in STEM fields.

The tradition continued in March with CEWIT’s eighth annual hackathon. The theme was Unleash Innovation, Transform Tomorrow and featured innovative projects in artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things, healthcare, sustainability and cybersecurity. The 43-hour-long weekend event was open to everyone from freshmen to graduate students and culminated in a project showcase and awards ceremony. Industry sponsors included Softheon, SRC, Google Cloud, Intelibs and Zebra.

“These hackathons are a great opportunity for students to take their classroom learning and bring it to the next level,” said Christopher Lange, engineering manager at CEWIT and a 2016 Stony Brook graduate. “Participants can take a small idea, find a team of other like-minded students, and take that idea all the way from the idea stage to the prototype stage.”

The event featured workshops that brought students together with industry partners and mentors. Students were able to explore a subject they are interested in, develop a solution and demonstrate it to judges. Lange said that AI took center stage this year.

“Students are really excited about AI,” he said. “Everyone is asking about generative AI and ChatGPT. So we brought in industry partners and mentors and said, ‘What cool things can you do with AI?’”

Each year’s theme focuses on the core pillars and goals within Stony Brook and the spirit of innovation.

“This year we focused on transforming tomorrow and having an impact on sustainability,” he said. “So we tried to figure out how we can marry those two ideas together and show what a sustainable future might look like. How can generative AI impact a sustainable future? How can we take this learning outside the classroom and meet industry where they are to actually have an impact on people?”

Lange noted that some participants are not even computer science majors. “This is something that’s cross-discipline and students from different majors can get involved,” he said. “I always love to see how these projects get across the finish line.”

Lange especially appreciates the first-time hackers.

Hack cewit 24 1“Maybe those projects are not as technically complex as a team of PhD students, but I love to see what might be the start of a really impactful journey,” he said.

“This was my first hackathon and I had a very pleasant experience,” said Jagadeesh Reddy Vanga, a graduate student who is pursuing a masters in computer science. The project he and three teammates worked on, “Data Pulse,” concerned customer segmentation using AI and was awarded Best in Show.

“We used a mock dataset to do a product demo, we did customer clustering using PCA-based K-means clustering and similar product prediction using word embeddings and integrated LLM (large language models) to answer questions by the user as part of the product,” Vanga said. “I implemented the entire backend for the project and helped fix issues in the frontend.”

Patrick Farrell ‘26, computer science, worked on a project called “Clusteroo,” which aimed to tackle the Softheon-sponsored challenge of “Best Integration of Customer Segmentation Utilizing AI.” It placed first.

“We built a Software as a Service (SaaS) that would allow small e-commerce businesses to implement artificial intelligence techniques that big companies such as Amazon and Spotify use to market their products to more targeted audiences,” said Farrell.

Farrell called Hack@CEWIT “amazing,” and said he will be interning this summer with SRC, an opportunity he gained through networking at the event. “Between the workshops and networking events offered by both SRC and Softheon, and the fun games and events CEWIT offered, I could not ask for a better experience.”

Another project, “Telehealth Companion,” sought to integrate AI technology with the telehealth experience.

“As the COVID pandemic showed us, digital access to healthcare is necessary at times to bridge the gap between patients and physicians,” said Sai Thimirisetty ’24, a senior biology major. He said the program downloads videos like telehealth consultations and analyzes them using AI, which summarizes the video, makes a transcript, and identifies voices in the video. The AI can also answer video-specific questions in case the patient was confused about certain medical terms or treatment plans.

“We wanted to empower patients so that they can understand their disease and treatment, increasing their willingness to follow the treatment plan and have a comfortable medical experience,” he said.

Telehealth Companion was named a Stand-Out Award winner. Thimirisetty added that “winning a money prize made me feel ecstatic about my work.”

The event included 100 students and 25 projects. Lange said his goal is to continue to leverage the crossroads of innovation and economic development.

“Sustainability and cybersecurity are big areas right now,” he said. “Those are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. So our challenge is to make sure that the students of today can participate in a future that’s both sustainable and secure. We’re all building it together. How do we make sure that all of these moving parts work together to make sure that we transform tomorrow?”

Lange also hopes to expand the reach to a wider audience. One example was the university’s first high school hackathon that took place in February.

“Our goal is getting more people involved and continuing to facilitate relationships between our students and our technology partners,” said Lange. “We need to make sure we keep expanding access.”

“There was so much excitement in the building the whole weekend, even at 3 in the morning as students worked collaboratively to achieve their goals,” said Peter Donnelly, associate vice president for technology partnerships, Economic Development. “Every year, the CEWIT team puts together a bigger and better hack than the year before. I’m very proud of the CEWIT team and the volunteers who run this event seamlessly.”

Robert Emproto

 

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