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Make-a-Ton, conducted by the Centre for Innovation, Technology Transfer and Industrial Collaboration (CITTIC), was a 48-hour online hackathon organized with the aim to bring together phenomenal minds from different disciplines to embrace the spirit of innovation. The event was held from 31st October to 2nd November 2020. It is the first time that it is being conducted online considering the global pandemic. Since it was conducted online, we were able to host a much wider palette of an audience with participants coming from all parts of the country. It was an open hackathon allowing teams to work on projects which they were passionate about. Additionally, there were two extra tracks namely social innovation for projects which have a social impact and Hack 4 CUSAT, a track exclusively for CUSAT students for solving problems related to the university.

The official event website went live on September 29th. The registrations were closed within the first week after receiving 130 registrations. The event enjoyed participation from students from different universities across the country. Until the registrations were closed, participants were given constant updates through the website, email correspondence and social media.

Once the registrations closed, the stage was set for all the participants and organizers. Discord was used as the platform for hosting the two-day event. Discord is a VoIP, instant messaging, and digital distribution platform in which users communicate with voice calls, video calls, text messaging, media, and files in private chats or as part of communities called “servers.”

A well-structured discord server was created specifically for the event. It consisted of separate text and voice channels catering to the different needs of every participant. Separate channels were created for announcements and general chat. Each team was given a private channel to hold their discussions. There were also channels for games, music, and off-topic discussions. A resources channel was also set up to encourage shared learning. All the participants were invited into the server after registration.

On October 29th, the organizers streamed an orientation session explaining the ins and outs of the event. It was an interactive session with the organizers answering doubts from the participants. After the orientation, the participants had a team formation phase where the individually registered students formed teams of 3-5 members within themselves. This also meant that all the participants got a chance to meet and greet each other, which is lacking in online events these days. A total of 27 teams were formed which competed in the hackathon.

The orientation, inauguration, interactive sessions, and the valedictory function were streamed live on YouTube. These were not restricted to the participants alone and were open to all.

The event was inaugurated on 31st October 2020 by the Honourable Vice-Chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology, Prof. KN Madhosoodhanan. During his inaugural speech, he quoted that CUSAT and CITTIC are at the forefront in upholding the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation. Mr. Prasad Balakrishnan Nair, Chief Executive Officer of Maker Village was the chief guest. He emphasized that innovation is the way forward after the pandemic.

The hackathon also included interactive sessions by experts from the industry. Mr. Suman Debnath, AWS Developer Advocate gave a session titled ‘Art of the possible’ on Artificial Intelligence. Mr. Hari Shanker, WordPress Community Manager at Automattic shared his views on taking your office online and Mr. Amrit Sanjeev, Staff Developer Advocate at Google gave valuable insights to participants on ‘Building better products – from Hackathon to production’.

Entrepreneurs from various startups provided continuous mentoring for the participants. The mentors included Sarath Shaji from Agrivator, Sahil Athrij, Muhammed Suhail Rafeeq and Ajay Jyothish from Trebuchet, and Rajat Jayashanker from WebCoffee online solutions. The mentoring took place in three stages. The first milestone check was to guide the teams in the right direction with their products. The second milestone check focused on business development and the polishing of the solution. The third and final milestone check was a pitch workshop to teach the participants the art of pitching.
Students were actively involved throughout the 48 hours to develop their solutions. They were discussing their solutions with the mentors, positively taking feedback, and interacting and networking with their fellow participants. There were no dull moments and the atmosphere was lively always.

The judges Mr. Sreekumar VM, General Manager, SFO technologies, Mr, Dhanaj KM expert member of selection and mentoring committee, Maker village, and Mr. Hari Shanker appreciated the participants for their innovative solutions.

The first prize winner of Make-a-Ton was team CrackHack. They were awarded a cash prize of Rs.15,000. The team consisted of 3 members, Anito Anto, Abhishek and Abhijith P. Realizing how important it is for students to understand what they are taught and to make online learning much more fun and interactive, their idea was to create an interactive web platform in which teachers can interact with their students through video, and also with a real-time 3D model of the portion they are taking. They broke all bounds when they added a voice-based interface for students and teachers to interact with the 3D model.

Team Genic won the runners up prize. They were awarded a cash prize of Rs.10,000 They created an E-health platform for Doctors, clinics, and hospitals. The team of 3 students Joel Sunny Varghese, Roshni Rajan, and Akhil Biju from Sree Buddha College of Engineering, Pattoor. The project showcased an amazing user interface and a great number of features that can be seamlessly used by anyone using the app.

A special prize for the most socially impactful project was given to Team Schrodinger. They were awarded a cash prize of Rs.5000. The prize money of social innovation was sponsored by Agrivator. They developed an online teaching solution that can be used even with very low internet connectivity. The team of 3 students Rizwan Asif, Adarsh, and Abhiram from the photonics department. Their solution of making accessible online class/education for all by drastically reducing the bandwidth required by students, by replacing streaming slides with static images and instantly sync the view of teacher and student.

Team BroCode was awarded the ‘Hack 4 CUSAT’ prize for developing digital solutions catering to problems faced by students in the university. They were awarded a cash prize of Rs. 5,000. The team of 5 students from CUCEK built a platform that consisted of an array of features to solve campus-specific problems integrated with a voice interface.

Every year Make-a-Ton makes it a point that the participants take something of value with them after the event. Make-a-Ton received a massive positive response from all its participants as it provided a platform for students to start their journey in innovation. In short, Make-a-Ton was nothing less than a massive success!

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