American Greetings hosts Hack Day at RIT

By Scott Bureau

Student designers, developers and writers at Rochester Institute of Technology were challenged to spend 24 hours or less creating something cool using old and new technology and unveil it in a 5-minute presentation.

The Hack Day contest, hosted Jan. 18–19 by Cleveland-based greeting card company American Greetings, drew more than 70 students to Student Innovation Hall for the overnight stretch. In the end, four first-place winners and four second-place winners for the mobile, Web, games and creative categories split $1,000 worth of gift cards and goodies.

“At American Greetings, we hold Hack Days like this with employees as a fun way to find new and creative ways to use technology,” says Mark Prugh, manager of Web development at American Greetings Interactive. “We’ve had several great RIT co-ops, so we decided to host one at RIT as way to say thank you and meet more students.”

American Greetings Interactive has been so impressed with RIT co-ops that they hired two recent co-ops to join their team after graduation.

New hires Amelia Province, a 2012 game design and development graduate from Salisbury, Md., and Dominick Vaccaro, a fifth-year game design and development student from Hampton Township, N.J., sat in as judges for the Hack Day, along with Prugh; Gretchen Burruto, assistant director of the Office of Co-op and Career Services; and Remy DeCausemaker, a research associate for the School of Interactive Games and Media.

Taking first place for mobile was a functional way to share digital business cards on your mobile contact list using data from LinkedIn. Winning the Web category was Team Bearded Nemesis, who created Data Buffet, a real-time monitoring service for server analytics. Team Blind Horizon took first place in games for an Android game called Falling in Lovein which users must find and collect letters to spell out a love letter to their lover.

“The winning team for creative actually came up with a concept and prototype in the 24 hour window,” says Burruto. “They created the Blink Band, a bracelet that allows close friends to stay in touch by blinking whenever a specific friend has posted something new to their social networks.”

At the conclusion of the Hack Day, instead of receiving a giant check, winners were awarded giant congratulations greeting cards and their gift card prizes.