Category: Competitions

Human Factors Grad Student Wins Hackathon, Cites Pandemic for Opportunity

One Michigan Tech graduate student found a silver lining of the pandemic-driven shift to remote study: the ability to gain experiences previously prevented by distance. And “gained experience” is an understatement, as Brooke Poyhonen recently was on the winning team in the Texas Health Care Challenge, an online hackathon that sought solutions to problems in health care.

The winning project, from Team WatsonCares, focused on women’s postpartum health and proposed a suite of services for new mothers:

  • A natural-language chatbot, powered by IBM Watson’s AI, to answer patient questions about both mental and physical health
  • A community feature allowing postpartum women to support one another
  • Deep informational and support resources

Poyhonen said the team came together because after hearing initial “problem pitches,” in which existing teams outline the projects they want to tackle, some were uninterested in the originally pitched ideas. So they created their own team. “Ideally, we want the chatbot to be personalized to the patient’s history,” she said. “And we wanted to create a safe space for women to talk to each other.”

Poyhonen will complete her accelerated M.S. in applied cognitive science and human factors this spring. She earned a B.S. in psychology from Michigan Tech in 2020. Both degrees are offered by the Cognitive and Learning Sciences department in the University’s College of Sciences and Arts.

The Texas challenge is normally on-site only, and she appreciated the chance to participate and urges other students to seek out similar opportunities. “It was great to meet people from around the country and work with a team on a real-world goal,” Poyhonen said. “It’s a great networking opportunity and gives me a concrete project to discuss in interviews. It was just so rewarding.”

The team’s prize included $120,000 in credits toward IBM products and services, a smaller cash award, and temporary office space with a Dallas venture capital firm. Poyhonen is working with team members on the project as a start-up while also pursuing other opportunities.

She got her first taste of hackathons over the winter in the Work Related Musculoskeletal Disorders Grand Challenge, run by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography. The challenge was to help the up to 90% of sonographers who develop disorders such as occupational overuse syndrome. Her team, which included a sonography mentor, an engineering student and two sonography students, created the Air Buddy, a device to help sonographers apply pressure to a probe with reduced physical stress. Poyhonen’s team won first place after judges deliberated for an entire week after the month-long window for teams to work on the problem.

Kelly Steelman, interim chair of the Cognitive and Learning Sciences Department, said hackathons are great supplements to classroom experiences. “I commend Brooke for taking the initiative to seek out design challenges as a way to build her portfolio of experiences and hone the skills she’s learned in our program,” Steelman said. “Brooke took advantage of opportunities through outside organizations, but we also offer hack-a-thons right here on campus.”

She said Husky Innovate is currently planning their inaugural hack-a-thon as part of an initiative to grow the human-centered design community at Michigan Tech. For more information on this, contact Lisa Casper.

Dr. Steelman is a member of the Human-Centered Computing research group of the Institute of Computing and Cybersystems (ICC).

Michigan Tech’s graduate program in Applied Cognitive Science and Human Factors teaches students how to apply principles of psychology to the design and evaluation of human-technological systems. Steelman said Beth Veinott, director of the Center for Human-Centered Computing, frequently reinforces for students that, “If you get the psychology right first, you design the right system, it is easier to train, and people are more likely to adopt it.”


2021 Design Expo Continues As Virtual Event

by Pavlis Honors College

The 21st Design Expo will continue virtually, but with a twist! Combining lessons learned from our first successful Virtual Design Expo and the desire to engage student teams synchronously, the Design Expo committee is excited to invite the Michigan Tech community, program friends and sponsors to register for this year’s Design Expo held via Gatherly, a platform used to simulate synchronous interactions and discussions, similar to a live MUB ballroom event.

Similar to last year’s Virtual Design Expo, more than 1,000 students in the Enterprise and Senior Design programs will come together to put on a virtual showcase of their work and compete for awards. This year, a panel of judges, made up of distinguished corporate representatives, alumni, community members, and Michigan Tech staff and faculty will critique videos of team projects, solutions, and results. We will kick-off and close the event via Zoom. At 11:30 AM participants will transition over to Gatherly, for the live two-hour synchronous showcase for student projects.

This event is free and open to the public. We encourage current and future students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, families of students. etc to help us celebrate our students and their achievements—register today to virtually attend Design Expo.

2021 Schedule of Events:

Monday, April 12

  • Noon — Remote judging open

Thursday, April 15

  • 11 a.m.: Opening remarks via live webinar
  • 11:30 a.m.: Gatherly event opens
  • 1:30 p.m.: Gatherly event closes
  • 3 p.m.: Presentation of Awards via live webinar
  • 3:30 p.m.: 2021 Design Expo concludes

Interested in judging for the 21th annual Design Expo? This year, judges will have the flexibility to judge team videos anytime between noon on April 12 through 1:30 p.m. on April 15. In addition to video judging, judges will be asked to attend Design Expo between 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. during the Judging Hour on April 15 to visit assigned teams via Gatherly.

Judges will be selected based on the availability to attend Design Expo during the synchronous event starting at 11:30 a.m. Judges will be assigned three to five teams to view and evaluate team videos over a four-day period (April 12-15) using an electronic ballot sent out via email and/or text message.

Judges will then judge the same three to five teams during the synchronous events 11:30-1:30 p.m. There will be a designated judging hour 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. but judges may continue scoring teams until 1:30 p.m.

Please consider serving as a judge — we welcome all Michigan Tech faculty, staff, alumni, industry representatives, community members, and anyone interested in the great work of our students!.

Click here for more information on attending and judging Design Expo. Check out all of the details of Design Expo here. For questions, please reach out to Briana Tucker.


ICPC Programming Competition Info Session Is Feb. 11, 6 pm

What: Info Session: ICPC Programming Competition
When: Thursday, February 11, 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Where: Zoom

An information session about the ICPC Programming Competition will take place this Thursday, February 11, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.

ICPC Programming Competition, North America North Central Regionals, will be held, Saturday, February 27, 2021. The contest will be held remotely using the Kattis contest system and Zoom for team communication.

Practice contests will be organized prior to the event.   

Please contact Associate Professor Laura Brown (lebrown@mtu.edu), Computer Science, with questions.

What are programming competitions? 

Programming competitions are team events (groups of 3 students) that test student knowledge through the answering of programming questions, correctly and quickly.  Top teams at the various events can go on to compete against top teams in the world. 

Why do you want to participate?

The programming contest tests your skills against other teams and universities, helps in developing problem solving skills, and can aid in preparation for job interviews, offering practice in solving problems quickly.

When and how you can participate?

The programming contest is usually held in the Fall, but runs virtually in spring 2021.  Student eligibility rules are listed here: https://icpc.baylor.edu/regionals/rules, which basically indicate that the student 1) can compete a maximum of five times at the regional levels, 2) started college in 2016 or later, and 3) was born 1997 or later. First year graduate students may be able to participate under these rules. 

Forming teams

Students who are interested and eligible may sign up to form teams of up to three students.

If you are unable to attend the information session, please complete the form linked to below to indicate your interest, register teammates, or notify organizers that you are looking for teammates.
https://forms.gle/AYtCmJzxNyf2YWGb6

Fine more information and resources at https://bit.ly/3aLiu1O.


Registration Open for Graduate Research Colloquium

by Graduate Student Government

Registration for this year’s virtual Graduate Research Colloquium (GRC) is open. Due to the continuation of the SARS-CoV-19 pandemic, the GRC will be held virtually on Thursday and Friday, April 1and 2.

The GRC is a great opportunity to work on your presentation skills and prepare for upcoming conferences. Students are free to give an oral presentation, a poster talk, or both. All talks will be scored by judges from the same field as the presenter.

Cash prizes are available for the top three places in both oral and poster presentations (1st – $300, 2nd – $200, and 3rd – $100). Registration closes Tuesday March 2, at 11:59 PM. Register today.

Poster presentations will take place in a pre-recorded video style. The deadline for video submission is Monday, March 22. A short Q&A session will take place with judges between 4-6 p.m. on April 1. Oral presentations are limited to 12 minutes plus a Q&A session.

The GRC will be capped off with a virtual awards ceremony. All participants and judges are invited to attend. The ceremony will be held on April 2, from 5-7 pm. Full information can be found on our website.

Feel free to contact Sarvada Chipkar if you have any questions or concerns.


Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition Is January 28

The virtual Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition takes place Thursday, January 28, 2021, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Graduate and undergraduate students from across campus disciplines are invited to compete. When registering, contestants can choose the competition category, as this year two pitch competition categories are available.

A tribute to the late Professor of Practice Bob Mark, College of Business, the Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition recognizes student entrepreneurial spirit.

Faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community are invited to attend this energized virtual pitch competition.

Register to attend the Bob Mark Business Model Competition

Register to compete in the Bob Mark Business Model Competition

Category 1: Idea Pitch

A two-minute idea pitch that presents a creative solution to a problem. Pitches will be evaluated on their uniqueness and the potential impactfulness.

Category 2: Business Model Pitch

A four-minute business model pitch which touches on the innovation technology, emphasizes product-market fit and the potential value it brings to the market. Prizes will be awarded to the most scalable and actionable business model pitches.  Participants in the Business Model Pitch category are encouraged to sign up for the Business Model Boot Camp workshop on January 20, 2021 https://bit.ly/HuskyInnovateBootcamp

This event is hosted by Husky Innovate, a collaboration between Pavlis Honors College, the College of Business and the Office of Innovation and Commercialization. Prizes will be awarded by the College of Business, the MTEC SmartZone, and Husky Innovate.  

Prizes include:

Idea Pitch Category

  • First Prize: $125
  • Second Prize: $75
  • Third Prize: $50
  • Social Impact Award: $100 (sponsored by Dr. Ellie Asgari – COB Gates Professor)

Business Model Category

  • First Prize: $2,000 (sponsored by Rick and Jo Berquist)
  • Second Prize: $1,000 
  • Third Prize: $500
  • Honorable Mention (2 prizes): $250 each Audience Favorite: $250
  • MTEC SmartZone Breakthrough Innovation Award: $1,000
  • Social Impact Award: $1,000 (sponsored by Dr. Ellie Asgari – COB Gates Professor)

Husky Innovate is Michigan Tech’s innovation and entrepreneurship resource hub. The unit hosts free workshops, competitions, NSF I-Corps lean startup workshops, innovation talks, internships, mentorship, and the Silicon Valley Experience.


Winter WonderHack Is February 19-21

Winter WonderHack is just around the corner. The event begins February 19, 2021, at 9:00 p.m., and ends February 21, 2021, at 9:00 a.m.

Are you an up-and-coming coder? Do you have a coding project in mind you’ve been itching to finally bring to fruition? Or perhaps you have no ideas, but you need to add some new projects to your resume, something you can brag about to recruiters?

Do you like to win prizes? How about just hanging out and/or playing games?

Do all of the above and more at the virtual Winter WonderHack February 19-21.

The event is sponsored by the College of Computing, Wolfram Language, Auto Owners Insurance, and Domino’s Pizza.

“Okay, but what IS Winter WonderHack?” you may ask.

Winter WonderHack is a hackathon hosted annually by MTU’s very own Humane Interface Design Enterprise, or HIDE. It is an event that extends over 36 hours, in which groups ranging in size from one to four people come together to build and code any project from scratch–but it’s not all work and no play! There are a wide range of activities that will be occurring all day and all night for you to take a break from brainstorming and just have fun!

After the 36th hour on Sunday, all projects will be presented to a panel of judges, and then prizes will be awarded under a variety of categories, ranging from the Most Creative project to the Most Useless!

For the entire weekend, MTU’s Red Team will host a Capture the Flag event. On Saturday, a Rocket League tournament will occur! Both events will be conducted virtually via Discord. (For anyone worried about missing out, Rocket League is available free for download on PC, PS4, XBox One, and Nintendo Switch.)

All events during Winter Wonderhack are free, and all levels of technical backgrounds are welcome to attend! To register, visit the Winter Wonderhack website at https://winterwonderhack.com/#, and click on the Register link.

Do you have more questions about the event? Please reach out to team@winterwonderhack.com. We hope to see you there!


Register Now: 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium Is Friday, March 26

The 2021 Undergraduate Research Symposium (URS) will be held virtually on Friday, March 26, 2021. It requires that participants register for the event, provide an abstract, and create and narrate an electronic poster.

This event is open to all Michigan Tech undergraduate researchers. Students wishing to participate must register online by Friday, February 5.

The top three winners, based on judges’ reviews, will receive cash prizes for the best poster and narrated presentation combination. Winner will be announced Friday, March 26. 

For event details, student application and resource materials, and judging information, visit the URS webpage or contact Paige Hackney.

View and download photos from the 2019 Symposium on the Pavlis Honors College Flickr page. View the 2019 URS booklet that details all of the Symposium participant abstracts.


Computing Majors on Team that Takes 3rd in Lockheed CTF Competition

Two College of Computing RedTeam students are part of a five-member team that finished 3rd in last weekend’s invitation-only Lockheed Martin Advanced Technologies Laboratories (ATL) Capture the Flag cybersecurity competition.

The multi-day virtual event involved 200 students on 40 teams. It opened for answer submission Friday, January 8, at 8:00 p.m., and closed Sunday, January 10, at 8 p.m.

The 3rd Place team, GoBlue!, trailed the 2nd Place team by only 14 points. RedTeam members are Michigan Tech undergraduates Dakoda Patterson, Computer Science, and Trevor Hornsby, Cybersecurity, and three University of Michigan students from the RedTeam’s partnership with that institution.

Michigan Tech RedTeam faculty advisors are Professor Yu Cai, Applied Computing, and Assistant Professor Bo Chen, Computer Science.

“We were lucky to be one of the 40 teams invited,” said Cai. “This was no small task, as the CTF included a large number of points in Reversing and “pwning” challenges, which proved to be fairly difficult. Other challenges were Cryptography, Stegonography, Web Exploitation, and miscellaneous challenges.”

CTF competitions place hidden “flags” in various computer systems, programs, images, messages, network traffic and other computing environments. Each individual or team is tasked with finding these flags. Participants win prizes while learning how to defend against cybersecurity attacks in a competitive and safe arena.

Top Three Teams

PlacementTeam NameInstitutionTotal Points
1st PlacenullbytesGeorge Mason University3697
2nd PlaceChrisSucksGeorge Mason University3330
3rd PlaceGoBlue!Michigan Tech and University of Michigan 3316

SURF Applications Open

Applications for 2021 Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) are now open. Fellowship recipients will spend the summer working on an individual research project under the guidance of a Michigan Tech faculty mentor.

SURFs are open to all Tech undergraduates who have at least one semester remaining after the summer term. Awards are up to $4,000. Applications are due by 4 p.m. Feb. 12.

For more information and access to the application materials and instructions, visit the SURF webpage or contact Rob Handler.


Celebrate Husky Innovation January 25-29

Husky Innovate is organizing Innovation Week, a series of innovation themed events the week of January 25 to 29, 2020. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students, faculty and alumni to meet virtually to engage around the topic of innovation.

We will host panel discussions, alumni office hours and the Bob Mark Business Model Pitch Competition from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 28.

We will celebrate entrepreneurship, innovative research and projects on campus and within our extended MTU community.

If you are interested in hosting an innovation tour, participating in a panel discussion, leading a workshop or something else, sign-up here.

Faculty and staff are invited to celebrate innovation week with an innovation themed learning module or student activity.