HSE Students Take Part in START Hack Hackathon in Switzerland
Evgenia Okopnaya, a first year student in Applied Mathematics and Information Science at HSE, together with her peers, Aliya Khasanova and Diana Zagidullina, recently participated in the START Hack Hackathon at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland. START Hack is a programing competition which attracts over 350 students, young entrepreneurs and programmers annually. Participants try to solve tasks set by big companies. Evgenia Okopnaya shared her impressions of the event.
Teams are given 35 hours to come up with a solution to the challenges. This year, the challenges were set by Volvo, Rolls-Royce, SBB CFF FFS (Swiss railways), and Swiss Prime (a real estate agency). They were related to technologies such as blockchain, virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things and machine learning.
Our team developed a chatbot/system of recommendations for Swiss Prime. The bot selected the best options for the client based on the information in the conversation. After several simple questions, it was able to put forward the first suggestion, and subsequently adjust it based on the user’s response.
Such a service on a company website could help avoid the need for users to talk to mediators or realtors, or to fill in lengthy forms. This would make choosing real estate faster and easier. The real estate database was provided by the company, and we analyzed the user text messages. It was our first experience of Natural Language Processing (NLP).
In addition to coding, the hackathon offered numerous master classes as well as networking opportunities with other participants and entrepreneurs. The event was extremely inspiring. We finished fourth overall, and this is just added motivation to improve and to participate again in the future.
Our participation in the hackathon was made possible by the HSE Endowment.
By Evgenia Okopnaya, first year student in