Shreya Gaur

On the morning of March 18th, 2023, over 50 students from Mountain House High School and surrounding schools gathering together in the school’s auditorium for the first ever MountainHacks event. The students were divided into teams, each consisting of 3-5 members, and were given a theme to work on: “Rise to New Heights” , which represented innovation.


As a sponsor, Code Ninjas provided prizes for the winners, such as internships and summer camps.


Throughout the day, the energy in the auditorium was palpable. There was a sense of excitement and determination among the students, as they worked tirelessly to bring their projects to life. After careful deliberation, the judges were able to select the top three teams. 


The first-place team had developed an app named GrowX. During an interview with one of the creators, Vishesh Verma shared that their team wanted to create a resource to help underprivileged kids rise to new heights and better educate themselves in whatever subject they were trying to achieve. They got inspired by thinking about the biggest group of people that they could help. Their final product had a simple user interface where users could create their own account and sign in. After setting their goals, users could create study methods (like flashcards, a quiz, etc.) for themselves, with however many questions they wanted about a topic that they aspired to excel in (such as math, life skills, etc.). The questions and answers were directly imported from ChatGPT’s AI. After studying, users could view and track their results in a table and a graph. Along with that, they had a placement test for people to get a recommended place to start for a specific subject along with setting a reasonable goal. Once a user achieved a goal, they received a permanent badge to remind themselves of what they had accomplished so far.  When I asked the team about how they collaborated with their team members to bring their project to fruition, they shared that they had split up the work evenly and come up with a way to deal with slow WiFi speed. They set small deadlines to make sure all of them were on the same track, and whenever one of them had a problem, there was always another person to help. They learned how to collaborate in the most efficient way and had fun along the way. Finally, when I asked the team for their advice for aspiring hackathon participants, they suggested to enjoy yourself throughout the hackathon and not stress if something doesn’t work out. As long as your original idea is portrayed in your final submission/presentation, you should be fine. However, at the same time, success only comes if you are dedicated and aspire to be a winner, so they recommended finding a way to not waste any time. For example, they always had someone working when the other people took a break, so there’s always progress, even if it’s slower.


The second-place team had developed Brain Wave. Brain Wave was created in hopes of detecting cancer early on. By using and manipulating the data of heartbeats, they hope to compare healthy heartbeats with the users. If the user’s heartbeat is not on par with the healthy one, the app will alert the user. 


The third-place team created an app called Attendance AI. One of the creators, Krishay Rastogi said his team created Attendance AI to improve the educational experience for both teachers and students by saving teachers time and effort tracking attendance, ensuring accuracy, and providing an added layer of safety and security. He recalls the process as challenging but exhilarating, with moments of frustration and fear of not completing the project on time. The Attendance AI team sees the future changing rapidly in terms of technology, with more advancements in AI, machine learning, and the Internet of Things. They overcame challenges in implementing a secure login system, slow internet, and real-time updates to attendance records by conducting extensive research, utilizing AJAX, and persevering. Their final product is a web-based attendance monitoring system that uses facial recognition to track attendance in real-time. They believe their project stood out from others due to its accuracy, automation, and presentation. Krishay and his team had to learn new technologies like AJAX and face recognition during the hackathon. They collaborated closely as a team, dividing up tasks based on their individual strengths, communicating frequently and openly, and helping each other debug issues. The experience taught them the importance of teamwork, communication, perseverance, and integrating new technologies, which they will apply to future projects. Their advice for aspiring hackathon participants is to work hard, communicate openly with teammates, try new things, and have fun.


Overall, the hackathon was a great success. The students demonstrated a remarkable level of innovation, creativity, and dedication. As a sponsor, Code Ninjas was proud to have played a role in supporting these students and helping them to develop their skills and passions. They look forward to continuing to support the next generation of innovators and change-makers in the years to come.