Tech Gala Recognizes Top Student Computer Science Projects

May 5, 2020

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom
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Held in the winter quarter, several weeks before California issued the stay-at-home order, UCLA computer science students showcased their projects to professors, industry judges and other students at Covel Commons during the Association of Computing Machinery’s flagship annual event: Tech Gala. Twenty projects were on display.

Two undergraduate students, Tejas Bhat and William Chern, organized the 2020 Tech Gala.

“The event was analogous to the end of a hackathon,” Chern said. “It served as a venue and runway to bring out the best creations that UCLA students have made outside the classroom.”

Unlike a hackathon, students were not confined to strict time limits, and so they were able to present polished versions of their projects for judging.

Professors David A. Smallberg, Carey Nachenberg, Paul Eggert and Demetri Terzopoulos, along with three software engineers from Facebook, served as judges for the program.

They scored each of the projects based on the categories of technical achievement, creativity, design and presentation.

Tyler Szeto won Best Solo Project for Dandere2x, an anime graphics enhancer. Siddharth Pandiya, Andrew Zhou, and Corine Tan won Best Group Project for Sike Insights — Kona, an artificial intelligence-powered insights provider. The biggest prize of the night, Best in Show, went to Miles Wu and Robert Geil for Story Seeker, a build-your-own-adventure web application integrated with Amazon Alexa.

” The diversity of projects, groups and experience came together, and it really showed that no matter what stage you are in, you can create a project and get it judged,” said Rucha Patki, who was recently elected ACM at UCLA’s president.

The Association of Computing Machinery is a student-run organization with eight sub-committees — Hack, W, AI, Studio, ICPC, Cyber, Design and Teach LA. Its motto, “Code the Future,” speaks to its mission of preparing 600-plus members at UCLA for success in different branches and applications of computer science, from working with up-and-coming technologies such as artificial intelligence and cybersecurity to teaching elementary and middle schoolers how to code.

This story is contributed by Emily Luong.

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