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Last year, HackIllinois introduced the open-source college hackathon. Our primary goal was to support student developers in giving back to the open-source community.

Our event offered two tracks. In the Create Track, we guided students towards the creation of new, maintainable projects. In the Contribute Track, we connected students with the maintainers of existing popular open-source projects, encouraging them to learn about these projects and become contributors themselves throughout the weekend.

For many of our attendees, work on their projects didn’t stop when our event came to an end. We’ve watched as the projects and contributions that started at HackIllinois have matured. Today, we’d like to share some of the amazing work our attendees have done in the six months that followed HackIllinois 2017.

This feature is the first part of a three part series detailing some of the projects that have kept on going after HackIllinois 2017. Read about our Long Con winners here:

Here are some of our honorable mentions for the Long Con award:

Transit Networks

Born at HackIllinois, Transit Networks was built off a prototype for an issue reporting system for the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). Team members, Viktor Koves, Robert Altman, Grant Reszcyk, CJ Bennett, & Chalyn Elkin expanded on the idea and envisioned a system that could power issue reporting for transit agencies worldwide with little manual work.

At HackIllinois, the team created a Ruby on Rails web application with the help of mentor, Marc Andre. They were able to use the General Transit Feed Specification to gather data from transit networks to create sites and populate their SQL database as well as create a basic interface for their product.

After HackIllinois, the team continued to work on their project and brought it all the way to Chi Hack Nights, where they gained more team members, contributors, and valuable feedback. They have switched over their database to for more accurate and informative data added an individual stop page to Transit Network, so that a user can share a URL that is specific to a certain station.

For the future, they plan to keep working on the project at Chi Hack Nights, focusing on their initial prototype geared towards the Chicago Transit Authority and will eventually work towards reaching out to civic technologists across the country to help them setup their own Transit Network instances.


At the intersection of computer science and the arts, Christina Ernst’s project combined her passions of programming and sewing to be one of the most distinctive projects seen at HackIllinois. TechStyles is a Bluetooth-integrated color-changing dress which can be controlled by any Apple device using the interface Christina created at HackIllinois. Christina didn’t expect much more than the successful completion of her project, so she was surprised when, during the exhibition, her dress attracted many attendees asking for detailed instructions of how to recreate her project in their own time.

This experience inspired Christina to focus her efforts into encouraging and educating young women to learn more about technology and hardware. Since HackIllinois, she has prototyped 10 beginner-friendly Arduino projects that combine art and science, and, with a sponsor grant she received from 1517, that initiative will be expanded into a full book aimed specifically at young girls. These projects are designed to introduce a broad spectrum of hardware components and programming concepts. Christina’s goal with this book is to give young women a working skill set in tech, arming them with confidence that they are not merely hiring quotas but creative and capable future engineers. Throughout this journey, she has garnered an enthusiastic community of supporters ready to back this project, so be on be on the lookout for a kickstarter campaign next year to get this book published!


The idea first struck Amber Sahdev when he was at the airport, waiting for his flight which had just been delayed. It was an idea that stayed with him until the first night of HackIllinois, where he shared his vision for this project with friend Zachary Codiamat, and they began to work together to create AirOnTime.

AirOnTime is a website that estimates the likelihood of a particular flight being delayed before you book your tickets and provides you with other more reliable options for the same route.

At HackIllinois, Amber and Zachary worked with the mentors available to set up a basic framework for their website and refine their idea, making it more concrete. Most importantly though, they were taken by the spirit of open source and learned how to collaborate and contribute to this project as a team, allowing for a more sustainable project.

Their work did not stop there though. Knowing that they were solving a real world problem, Amber and Zachary remained motivated in working on their project even after HackIllinois. They took the feedback and resources they received and used them to further improve their product and make it more accurate. Rather than relying on outdated API data from big airlines, they are now using and cleaning the data collected by the US government to provide better search results. They have also added a number of new features to their service and plan on continuing to expand the scope of their project to improve service and make their website faster and more reliable.

Check them out here!

Congratulations to all the teams for their continued efforts over these past few months and their dedication to the open-source community.

UPDATE: This article was revised on 2017 October 3 for minor grammatical errors.

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Garima Gupta




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