MS students pose with their 1st place “check” from Mobility Hackathon Chicago. Each student was awarded $1,000 and a 3-month membership to Connectory in Chicago. (Left to right: Riccardo Pressiani, Guido Muscioni, Matteo Foglio, Lorenzo Norcini, Claudio Montanari)

Five MS Computer Science students won the top prize at Mobility Hackathon Chicago on October 20-21, sponsored by Bosch and KPMG.  Their winning platform and device Feel Your City can collect, visualize and analyze data about air quality and noise pollution in cities. The idea is to put the sensor on public transportation vehicles, such as bikes, buses and trains.

The five students who are part of a contract degree program with Politecnico di Milano in Italy each won $1,000 and a 3-month membership to the event host Chicago Connectory, an IoT incubator located in the Merchandise Mart.

The team had 26 continuous hours to come up with an idea and create a working prototype which proved to be a challenging task for the team.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Riccardo Pressiani (MS ’19). “We started to think about how we move around Chicago. We’re students so we use the CTA every day to commute to UIC and back home. The breakthrough happened when we put our skills on the table and what came out was sensors, IoT, cloud platform, data analytics, machine learning and data visualization. Putting everything together we came up with Feel Your City.”

The team created machine learning algorithms to extract useful information in real-time that can be provided to city officials to help improve the public experience when moving around the city.

Riccardo Pressiani (MS, ’19) presents Feel Your City device and platform at Mobility Hackathon Chicago on October 21st.

A Divvy bike fabricated with the Feel Your City device which detects noise and air pollution.

“The most exciting thing about this project is the chance to actually use our skill to do something good for the city. It was a great feeling to see how we could build something useful in such a short amount of time doing what we do every day,” Pressiani said.

This was not the team’s first hackathon, but it was their first top prize, beating out 11 other teams.

“We were the only team to actually physically build something during the event, so we were hoping to get at least one of the prizes. For sure, we didn’t expect to see such an appreciation for our work from the judges.”

This is only the beginning for Feel Your City. “We would like to continue to work on this project and work with the people we met at the hackathon to go through our idea and understand if and what needs to be adjusted to make it an actual viable product,” Pressiani said.

Putting the victory aside, Pressiani is a big advocate for students attending hackathons.

“We strongly suggest to all our mates to try to join one of these events. There are a ton of events like the one we did. Try to find the one that best match your skills and just do it. Even if you don’t win, these events open you a lot of opportunities thanks to the networking that you can do,” he said.


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