The fifth edition of Citrus Hack, a hackathon organized by the ACM and IEEE student chapters at UCR, was held in the BCOE college of engineering at UCR. It brought together over 300 students from across 33 colleges in California to UCR. The competitors worked in a variety of events over 24 hours to create innovative technology and applications.

About Citrus Hack

Citrus Hack is the yearly hackathon co-hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Institute of Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE). Hundreds of students from all over SoCal (and a few from out-of-state) come together and form teams, aiming to build a project from scratch over the duration of 24-36 hours.

Citrus Hack is focused on the brilliant partnership between education and competition. While “hackers” compete for prize categories such as Best Game Hack and Best Data Science Hack, they hone their practical skills along the way.


This year, Citrus Hack 2018 hosted over 350 collegiate developers, hailing from over 33 different colleges.  The opening keynote speaker, Ayori Selassie from Salesforce, encouraged the hackers to thoroughly think, understand, and evaluate how their inventions would impact individuals, communities, and the world. After her speech, 24 hours of non-stop hacking followed. Whether it was setting up a web application or tinkering with hardware for the first time, hackers of all experience levels found a way to dive into uncharted territories.

Workshops ranged from beginner courses such as [Woodbury University] Professor Bryan Jaycox’s Intro to Unity, to more advanced courses such as [CTO of Cryptanite] Henry Duong’s Smart Contracts workshop. Some UCR students also volunteered to teach workshops such as Intro to Git, Intro to C++, and Intro to Docker.

Fun activities were also hosted to keep hackers happy and awake. Major League Hacking hosted their classic Cup Stacking Competition. In the dedicated Game Room sponsored by Gigabyte, a Fortnite Tournament took place. Hackers were also taking turns breaking open a swag pinata at 2:30AM, filling their pockets with stickers and candy. The fan favorite de-stresser was the “UCRgis” event, where Instagram-famous corgis Moose and Koda (@stumpsandrumps) came to play and pose for photos.

Once hacking ended, teams set up their projects for demonstrations on the Winston Chung Hall Patio. Within the 24-hour hacking period, a wide variety of projects made it to demos. Projects ranged from first websites and simple games, to sophisticated machine learning applications and smart home systems.

The third place prize went to Blindsight, a hat with an embedded system that transmits relative distance of objects via vibration modules. It utilizes a simple ultrasonic sensor isolating on a stepper motor. This is useful for people with visual impairments, as it eliminates the need for a white cane.

The second place prize went to SpeakWithMe, a VR game where the user is transported to Taiwan. They can learn Chinese and record their voice as they pronounce words. By interacting with the NPC’s, the user gains a realistic experience, making it more comfortable to speak Chinese in real life.

The first place prize went to VibeWatch, an application that uses computer vision to monitor certain key facial markers to label a face as having 1 of 8 varying emotions. These emotions can be tracked in real time using different resizing emoji’s to emphasize the prevailing emotion of the audience. A cool feature of VibeWatch is Random Acts of Kindness, where making someone smile on camera results in a small charitable payment to the user.

At Citrus Hack 2018, every team went home with something of value. Whether it was a physical prize, something they learned, a project they want to continue, or new friends, no one left empty-handed.