SOC Junior Wins Harvard Hackathon Award

November 30, 2015

Calvin Chhour, a junior in the University of Utah’s School of Computing, took first place in the first annual Harvard Hackathon. Chhour along with three other team members won the International Development award for their project, Stegosaurus.

The three-day HackHarvard event, which began Nov. 13, challenged students to create and design projects using new technology. Chhour, and his team competed against more than 100 other teams from universities in the US and around the world. 

Sponsors of the event included Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Wolfram, and representatives from each company provided help and mentoring to students participating in the event. 

“It was overwhelming at first, but once we had our idea and got started things really came together. It was awesome collaborating and working with other students and having the mentors available for advice,” said Chhour.

Chhour and his team developed a Chrome extension called Stegosaurus. The chat program can encrypt messages, files, and photographs into images that are deconstructed and revealed when sent to other Stegosaurus users. The purpose for the program is for use in countries where freedom of speech is oppressed and in domestic violence situations.

“Working on team projects and learning programming here in the School of Computing really prepared me for the Hackathon,” said Chhour, who arrived at the U with no programming experience.

As a result of his winning the award, Chhour was invited to participate in the University of Oregon hack-a-thon, Quack Hack.