SkyHack 2023 Awards Students Over $9,000 in Prizes

With little to no sleep and just 36 hours – make that 37, if they remembered to set their clocks back – 10 student teams defined the future of aviation at SkyHack 2023.

“The thing that kept me awake is [that] I’ve never built a mobile app before,” said Breanna Lowery, a junior computer science major. “Just getting this progress, getting a screen that works … that was very exciting.”

Inspired by movie theater seating, Lowery and her partner David Reese, a computer science major at the University of Akron, developed an app that allows airline travelers to choose their own seats. Called Oasis Air, the app goes further by displaying passenger talking habits- if they are traveling with a child and whether they plan to sleep, work or watch a movie so passengers can find a seatmate who matches them.

“I actually really do believe that we've solved a problem here,” Reese said.

The greatest strength throughout the competition was teamwork.

The team behind Rubble Busters consisted of Gabe Colbrunn, a junior mechatronics engineering major who brought AI expertise to the table; Lilia Colbrunn, a senior mechatronics engineering major with a minor in unmanned aircraft systems; and Cole Hebbard, a senior mechatronics engineering major and pilot.

Their final product was an autonomous search and rescue aircraft equipped with an infrared heat scanner, the capability to notify rescuers and AI-powered conversations to provide instructions to those in need.

“It was pretty much the perfect combination of all of our skill sets and our interests,” Lilia Colbrunn said.

But not every team consisted of engineers. A group of resident assistants formed team JHARK, which developed StarWell, a system that combines wearable biometric sensors, psychological research and statistical modeling to monitor mental health support in space. Despite its focus on software, the team consisted of fashion, hospitality, psychology, digital media production and computer science majors.

“We worked together in a group to actually come up with something that benefits us from all our differences and different backgrounds,” said Kyla McLaughlin, a junior psychology major.

The challenge stream award recipients are:

Photo of AirWear student team
Pictured: AirWear student team

Air Travel Experience

AirWear – 1st Place

Oasis Air – 2nd Place

Eco Flyers student team
Pictured: Eco Flyers student team

Sustainable Aviation

Eco Flyers – 1st Place

EATO – 2nd Place

Rubble Busters student team
Pictured: Rubble Busters student team

Aerospace Redefined

Rubble Busters – 1st Place

StarWell/JHARK – 2nd Place

Moon Missionaries student team
Pictured: Moon Missionaries student team

DI Collaboration Award

Moon Missionaries

The fourth iteration of SkyHack was held from Nov. 3-5, 2023 in the Design Innovation Hub in partnership with Design Innovation and the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. Learn more about the student teams and their final projects/designs at SkyHack's DEVPOST project gallery.

Special Thanks to our Sponsor

SkyHack 2023 was generously funded by the Burton D. Morgan Foundation. Burton D. Morgan graduated in 1938 from Purdue with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a love for aviation. In 1967, he started Burton D. Morgan Foundation to support those with entrepreneurial aspirations. In October of 2017, the Foundation sponsored the first aviation-themed hackathon, SkyHack, at Kent State University in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering.

POSTED: Friday, November 17, 2023 02:27 PM
Updated: Monday, November 20, 2023 12:41 PM
Alton Northup