SMU Blockchain Hackathon Participants Compete for $12,000 in Prizes – The Daily Camp

University students and young professionals coded projects at the Hughes-Trigg Student Center for a chance to win more than $12,000 in prizes at last weekend’s blockchain hackathon, Hack The Chains.

Hack The Chains is the first 36-hour blockchain hackathon hosted by SMU’s Blockchain Club. The hackathon allowed participants to hone their skills with coding challenges, win awards, network with industry experts, and learn more about blockchain through workshops and lectures.

Hack The Chains judge and SMU Blockchain faculty advisor Dr. Simon Mak said hackathons help students prepare for careers in computer science by gaining real-world experience.

“Hackathons are designed to help you solve problems in a very short amount of time,” Mack says. “We teach you how to quickly solve problems and code your solutions. In this particular hackathon, we are using blockchain techniques to code our solutions.”

Participants won awards for their projects and were all smiles at the closing ceremony. (Alex Geer)

Blockchain is a technology that enables a permanent, immutable, and transparent record of data and transactions. According to McKinsey & Company, this is a fairly new industry and is growing rapidly.

Hack The Chains had more than 150 participants, primarily students from SMU, the University of Texas at Dallas, Texas Christian University, and other schools in the DFW area. Students from Arizona State University and Louisiana State University also participated.

Motivated by the desire to make education more exciting through games, SMU freshman Logan Choi created Escape Room, a simple memory game. He would like to implement more complex games, such as matching English and Spanish words.

He also wants to create leaderboards and reward systems to encourage competitive play.

“It’s going to be really cool to see other friends playing at the top of the leaderboard with high scores,” Choi said. “I want you to be like that too.”

A blockchain novice, Choi taught himself a coding program in 12 hours and discovered a new interest in blockchain.

“It was really difficult,” Choi said. “But the more I learned, the more it became interesting and I had a lot of fun.”

Participants will rest on Saturday morning at the Hughes Trigg Student Center. (Melanie Jackson)

Choi had been awake for 27 hours straight. His team members left midway through the competition, leaving him to complete the project himself.

“I came for PS5, but I stayed for blockchain,” Choi said. “It was 4 degrees Celsius, but after 3 degrees my heart started beating.”

The Escape Room team ultimately took home second place AirPods Pro at Sunday afternoon’s closing ceremony.

SMU’s first place team, Membrane, each took home a PlayStation 5. Membrane transfers crowdsourced data to researchers without compromising user privacy.

Other teams that placed in award categories received prize money from sponsors, biometric wallets, and other technologies.

#1 Team Membrane and the new PlayStation 5 console. From left to right: Farhad Nouri, Noah Saleh, William Bjorndal, Cooper Shapard (Alex Geer)

SMU Blockchain Technology Director Ephraim Sun was proud of the round-the-clock work of the Blockchain Club executive team that ensured the success of the event.

“I think the event as a whole went very well. This was our first hackathon as a blockchain team,” Sun said. “Our team was able to navigate very well. We had a great time at karaoke on Saturday night.”

Sun is looking forward to the future growth of Hack The Chains.

“For the future of Hack The Chains, we want to continue doing this every year, maybe every semester,” Sun said. “And as we continue to connect with members of the DFW community, we will continue to develop our members’ talent pool.”

For more information about Hack The Chains, please visit

Drew Gibson contributed to this article.

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