Teams from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa won the top three prizes at the 2020 Hawaiʻi Annual Code Challenge (HACC) held virtually on November 21. OverEasi, the first place team and winner of a $4,000 prize, designed and delivered a chatbot that quickly shares up-to-date COVID-19 information and encourages healthy behaviors. More than 140 developers from 26 teams participated in this year's competition.

The OverEasi team is made up of UH Mānoa students Alyssandra Cabading, Eric Lam, Irene Ma and Shane Severino. They designed the program's tools around flexibility for the long term. The COVID-19 chatbot challenge was proposed by software company NIC Hawaii.

"We felt that the chatbot challenge was the most relevant to current events within the world," OverEasi team members said. "We created this application in order to hopefully contribute something to help our community through these turbulent times."

The project is still being improved, and the team hopes to train its chatbot to field a wider variety of responses to better fit the needs of the community. Team members are also seeking feedback. View the project website and submit feedback.

Game The System and UHShield

Game The System team members Matthew Sahara, Isaac Lee, David Liang, Frendy Lio Can, Spencer Young, Willy Chang and Keenan Lee took home second place and a $2,000 prize for their project to explore application designs that improve security for UH Mānoa buildings and reduce personnel costs. The team's web application allows IT personnel to create and track appointments for visitors. Visitors are able to receive a QR code that will allow them access into the IT building.

UHShield team members Tianhui Zhou, Yuhan Jiang and Weirong He won third place and a $1,000 prize taking on the same challenge as Game The System. The team built a mobile iOS app that allows users to manage UH Mānoa building access. Sponsors can create and manage their events, and invite guests by sending emails within the app.

Many of the winning students are mentored by UH Mānoa information and computer sciences Professor Philip Johnson.

"Due to COVID-19, this year's Hawaiʻi Annual Code Challenge was held entirely online, and I was worried that the challenge would not live up to previous years," Johnson said. "Instead, there was a record-breaking number of participants, and ICS students rose to the challenge with their best finish yet. I think the quality of code is getting better and better, and can't wait to see how they do next year."

More on HACC

HACC generates proof-of-concepts by student, amateur and professional coders to benefit community and state agencies to support sustainability, feeding into Hawaiʻi's innovation ecosystem to promote solutions for community resilience, professional development, local job creation and building local businesses. HACC provides an expanded multi-week timeframe meant to encourage interaction between community teams and state department personnel, resulting in sustainable solutions that are matched with technologies and platforms in use or being considered by the state. The competition, inspired by Gov. David Ige, is in its fifth year.

---By Marc Arakaki