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DU Students Win Judge's Award at HPC (High Performance Computing) in the City: St. Louis Hackathon

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Ritchie School Communications Team

Authored by Nidhi Madabhushi

Blog  •

HPC in the City: St. Louis Hackathon took place on November 5, 2021, through November 8, 2021. Our team participated in this Hackathon that focused on using high performance computing technology. The team comprised Urvashi Kishnani, a graduate student in Computer Science, and I, Nidhi Madabhushi, a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science, with a peer from Lehman College. 

We had common goals for this Hackathon; Create a minimum viable product that addressed climate change and focus on usability. Various mentors presented their ideas during the Hackathon, and we became particularly interested in two: real-time air quality and detecting flooded areas. Recently, poor air quality has been a concern in Denver. We chose to create a web application that showed the real-time air quality at all US recording sites that are updated every hour. Additionally, we included historical air quality levels and an alert system for subscribed users when poor air quality. We named our team AIR (Atmospheric Investigative Researchers).

The organizers had mini challenges every day to encourage the participants and keep the contest enjoyable. We won the best team introduction challenge and the most progress after 24 hours challenge. We had two mentors; Cole McKnight, Software Engineer at Omnibond Systems, and co-mentor Sheri Mickelson, Software Engineer at National Center for Atmospheric Research. They were supportive and gave suggestions for issues we were facing, which helped us stay on track during the Hackathon.

I created a map with custom markers showing the air quality levels for our project. Urvashi worked on getting the real-time API data and setting up the web application on the Cloud using Flask. Then, David worked on designing part of the website, ensuring that we had the deliverables on GitHub, and creating the final presentation. As our team followed a decentralized approach, we could complete the majority of features that we had planned for the project.

Nidhi's map of air quality (AQI) in Denver
Nidhi's map of air quality (AQI) in Denver

Out of the seven teams that created practical applications using HPC technologies that had regional implications in St. Louis, our team won the Judge’s Award. We were very excited about what we built in such a short duration. We thank the organizers and sponsors for giving us this opportunity to learn and providing the resources to create valuable and scalable projects.