December 18, 2019

Dear Friends and Supporters,

On behalf of the Board, the Hacker Initiative, and the Programming Committee, we’re very excited to announce our inaugural grant recipients! We thank the Board and the members of the Programming Committee for volunteering their time, reviewing all of the applications, and for voting on the grants.

Below is the first set of 18 grant recipients, in no particular order, together with a synopsis of their grant request. From left to right you will see in their own words the description of their project, the project goal, and how they believe the community will benefit.

Thank you to all who applied and to those of you who continue to support the efforts of the Hacker Initiative.

And congratulations to the recipients of this round of granting!


Bill Pollock, Chair of the Board
Hacker Initiative

On Time

To develop and provide a broadcast studio clock and status board, and make the resulting codebase and design available to other podcasters and non- commercial broadcasters at no cost Goal to to develop a clock prototype in a quantity of 20, make them available to other users (internal and external) , identify potential design issues, and make the improved design available under a public license.

Number of downloads would provide a metric on deployment.

Supporting other communities via their local non-commercial broadcasters at no cost

Biohacking Implant Data Exfiltration

Using the Proxmark3 RDV4 kit, LF, HF, and ProxLF antennas I will investigate the possibility of biohacking implant data exfiltration. When speaking to participants and onlookers at biohacking villages it has always been a concern that there was the possibility of the data on an implant being cloned without the implantees’ knowledge; either at a long-distance or covertly at a short-range. I have personally heard it repeated many times that this was not possible however I have not seen a test indicating that it was or was not. In testing with the Proxmark 3 RDV3, I have found that the in vivo implant needed to be in contact with the antenna itself before being able to be read. This I believe is mostly due to the design of the antennas and their intent not being for biohacking implants. However, with the specialized antennas for the Proxmark3 RDV4 I believe this may no longer be the case. This equipment would be used to identify any scenarios (long-range, short-range, covert, or otherwise) where the data on a implant could be read. The goal of this project is to identify any scenarios (long-range, short-range, covert, and non-covert) where data could be exfiltrated from a biohacking implant. Examples of such implants include the Dangerous Things NeXT (RFID & NFC), xEM (RFID), and xNT (NFC). Success will be measured through either the identification of scenarios where data was able to be read/copied/cloned from such implants or confirmation that it is not currently possible to exfiltrate data from an implant without the implantees’ knowledge. These results will be shared with No Starch Press, posted to, shared among biohackers, and if accepted presented as a conference talk. This research will benefit both the biohacking community and the information security community at large. It has always been assumed among biohackers that implant data exfiltration was not a concern however there is currently no evidence to prove or disprove this. With the increase in popularity of biohacking villages at information security/hacker conferences and biohacking specific conferences taking rise more and more information security professionals, hobbyists, researchers, and hackers are becoming involved leading to an ever-increasing need to answer the question of whether a situation such as the previously mentioned is possible. By conducting this project and presenting the findings to both the biohacking community and the information security/hacker community it’s my belief that participants can be more educated to the potential security risks or lack thereof.

Greenpower USA Electric Vehicle

Greenpower USA is a competition sponsored by Siemens. Greenpower USA teams are required to compete in two 90-minute races. The car will reach speeds above 30 MPH. Each 90-minute race must be completed using two Greenpower approved 12-volt batteries, and all cars must use the identical specified electric motor and body kit. Teams in the top three in a regional heat qualify for the National Final, along with cars that have completed the most miles in any race.

Riverside High school would start two teams. One team would be made up of the engineering club members and the second team would be a group of elementary and middle school students. This project is meant to serve as a summer bridge program between the high school and the elementary and middle school. The high school students will serve as mentors to the younger students. The goal is for this program to be expanded to other elementary and middle schools and become an alignment project for the high school feeder pattern.

Goal – Increase science, engineering, and math positive attitudes at an age when students are vulnerable to associate STEM with negative feelings.

Objective: Students will take a pre- and post-activity survey with questions to measure their attitude toward different aspects of STEM, their future classes, and their future career choice. Upon completion of the race car built, we hope to see 100% of scores as positive and demonstrate 100% of participants would want to pursue a career in STEM.

Goal – Students will demonstrate an increase in their science, technology, engineering, and math aptitude and participation.

Objective: Students will demonstrate an increase in their science, engineering, and math aptitude by increasing their grades in the science, technology, engineering, and math classes from the previous year. Also measured will be their extracurricular involvement in STEM related activities, and enrollment in advanced or specialty STEM classes compared to previous years.

The main tool for assessing the effectiveness of the project activities will be how the students fair in the national competition compared to other seasoned teams and teams competing for the first time also. Completing the car and competing in a race will be evidence of the activities being effective and successful. The students will need to travel to races in South Texas or Alabama. Students at this point would have built a racecar and travelled to another city to race the car they built.
The engineering skills and physics concepts they gain will be used to measure the effectiveness of this project. A pre and post assessment can be done on physics concepts to show an increase in concept understanding. Student scores in math, science classes can be tracked in order to determine and increase aptitude. Surveys concerning their affinity toward STEM will be given before the project starts and after the project ends. We can analyze the results of the surveys to measure if there was a change in attitude toward STEM concepts. The engineering skills they acquire during this project can be tools to measure the effectiveness of the projects. For example, students can be tested after on what is and how to use a Gantz chart, how to complete a Pugh table, or how to make a decision analysis table. Assessments based on hypothetical projects can be created to see how students would apply the engineering skill they learned.
The amount of students and the number of STEM competitions in which the participating schools compete can be used a measurement of effectiveness of the project. An increase in number of students participating in STEM activities from the year prior to the following year can be compared as can the number of competitions the school participates. Another tool to measure effectiveness can be how well the school does in competitions they have already participated in the new year, after the students have acquired the engineering skills, compared to the previous year.

The Riverside High School engineering club in El Paso, Texas consists of boys and girls that are Hispanic and come from low socioeconomic homes. They vary in GPAs, but they all have a passion for STEM and an amazing work ethic. Riverside students will mentor students from a local elementary and middle school where they do community service. Students working with the high school students will range from at risk to high achieving, but will share the following characteristics: minority, economically disadvantaged, and a passion for STEM.
This project addresses several educational needs: young children need mentorship in STEM, a vertical alignment project to build connections between the high school and feeder schools, real world application of engineering skills, an opportunity for economically disadvantaged students from El Paso to participate at the national level, and the exploration of renewable resources.
Summer bridge programs and mentors are very effective in cementing a successful future for young children. Bridge programs can support at-risk students by mitigating summer learning loss, providing students an opportunity to catch up on their studies, and inspiring students to take advanced placement courses later in their high school careers. It also allows them to explore STEM in the future. Riverside engineering club students will mentor and work with elementary students as both high school and elementary students work on similar projects together. The connections made will be priceless for students.
Community engagement is key for successful high school programs. Educational programs that reach outside of the walls of their school are the most impactful. This project will reach young children in the community when they are most at risk of losing interest in STEM. Teenage students begin to lose the wonder of STEM and begin to see it as difficult and associate STEM with negative feelings. This project will serve to engage students in STEM.
There is a void in El Paso, Texas for STEM competitions. Vex and STEAM fiesta are working to fill that void but this project can help also. Low-income students will be exposed to a very demanding level of competition at a national level while exploring STEM concepts.
Vex used to be seen as very expensive (kits and parts can go into the thousands and need to be replenished every year) and no one in El Paso was competing in Vex. It took a couple of schools to go out, be the first, and lay the groundwork. They travelled to compete and had to get creative with funding during the first years.
We are hoping this project will serve as a proof of concept for the Greenpower USA competition in El Paso, Texas. On the Greenpower USA website, there are no teams in West Texas. We are confident the participating schools and the community will take notice of how amazing and see the huge scope of this project. This will encourage other schools to participate and eventually have the school district pay for the students to participate like they do with Vex robotics now. I encourage you to visit the Greenpower USA website and take note that no school in West Texas or immediate surrounding area is participating in this competition.
This project will also create momentum in the community level. Once the project is funded and we are able to travel with the racecar and show it in parades or local functions, it will be easier to fundraise for a second round next year. We plan to build on the momentum that would be gained from this project being funded the first time.

Badin High School Engineering Department

Add a second 3D printer for use by engineering students Increase the number of students in the engineering profits at Badin high Badin high school and the surrounding businesses looking for employers with STEM related skills


The Woodlands Hackers Association

We are currently a monthly meetup group that meets monthly to present projects and talks. We started this group to bring and help develop talent in the Woodlands, Texas. We started this group due to am identified need in the area after not being able to fill positions. After looking more at the market here we found that public knowledge sharing outside of a few groups closer to Houston. There is interest in this area and we have been funding these meetings out of pocket for 10 months. The money would allow us to remain in operation without the personal burden of the meeting expenses. We are currently funding a meetup pro account, shirts, stickers, and having to meet a minimum at the place we hold the meetings. We have looked around and the place we are currently at is the best for the price. Another issue that we are running into outside of the costs listed above is a need to advertise and market so we can grow the meetings. Our current goal is to help expand the current meetings that we have. We want to help bring knowledge of hacking to others in the area. To do this we need to maintain our current location and attendees while marketing to expand. The benefits we see are bringing and helping develop new talent in this area.

Mental Health Hackers

We’re hackers helping hackers. Mental health is important for everyone and we need to talk about it more. The mission of Mental Health Hackers is to educate tech professionals about the unique mental health risks faced by those in our field – and often by the people who we share our lives with – and provide guidance on reducing their effects and better manage the triggering causes. We also aim at providing support services to those who may be susceptible to related mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, social isolation, eating disorders, etc.

Already thanks to the conferences and personal supporters in the community we’ve been able to provide information security conferences with over $15k in massages, over 20 hours of yoga. We now have more than 80 volunteers that come directly from the community that are so amazing, from helping us answer questions, surveys, running the rooms, and helping each other work through issues through peer support practices.

As Mental Health Hackers grows and receives sponsorship, we aim to expand our offerings. These include various services and support to help the information security community tackle mental health issues. It also includes improving and expanding our current key offering, the mental health and wellness village.

Our goal is to create a better awareness of mental health related issues in the information security community, reduce the stigma surrounding talking openly about them, and assist those in need with finding professional help if needed. As a concept it is difficult to track these goals, however we do know that so far we have made a large impact on a wide range of professionals that we’ve encountered. Our villages are a place to come in and relax, get away from the crowds and noise in a relaxed atmosphere. Listen to some quiet music, learn about a mental health topic, do some coloring, get a massage, just take some downtime. We are a group of information security professionals passionate about helping others. Many of us have battled personally with mental health issues, some have supported loved ones in their struggles. Our experiences prompted our desire to open, support and foster conversations about mental health problems and to provide support and information as to how to recognize, manage, and conquer them. We found encouragement and support within the infosec community and we believe that can be leveraged to help more people in their struggles. Peer support has been proven to show positive outcomes and that’s why we’re here.

Ethical Hacking Workshops for SF Area High-School/College Students

Deliver a hands-on lab-based ethical hacking workshop to high-school & college students in the SF area. My end goal is to deliver this workshop to interested students in at least 3 high schools or colleges in SF. This project aims to empower young hackers looking to pursue a career in cybersecurity. Through real-world, practical, hands-on security training, I aim to inspire and motivate students toward an achievable cybersecurity career pathway.


We are a 501(c)3 that holds a monthly infosec meetup group. The group provides pizza at each meeting as well as 2 talks per month on any infosec topic The mission of SecIC is to provide a free, vendor-neutral forum for the expansion and dissemination of industry knowledge, to extend the culture of security awareness, and enable members to make informed, and educated security decisions. SecIC runs on attendee participation. If you’ve built, broken, or discovered something cool, please consider sharing with the group. The usual meeting format consists of an introduction, one or more tool talks, and then one or more primary talks. We are an open no-fee club designed to serve the members of the community


We are a 501c3 organization dedicated to supporting and growing the technical women engineers and PM’s working in the industry so that they don’t leave the industry. We are known for our technical programs including our unique technical mentorship partnership with SRI International to provide technical women in industry access to world-renowned researchers to contribute towards open source projects in cybersecurity, data science, AI/ML. The participants work on these projects in their personal time with no funding help from their employers. We are seeking funds to cover the cost of food/drink for the participants (we currently have 7 women participating), paying one person to monitor progress (project/program mgmt.) and writing a final report at the end of the term of the project (March 2020). The goal for the CodeChix-SRI International technical mentorship program is to provide hands-on, targeted technical mentorship opportunities for women engineers and technical PM’s working in industry so that they can enhance their skills and contribute to highly visible open source projects. This provides the CodeChix members a way to stand out in technical interviews and showcase their technical skills openly. We measure skill acquisition of each participant by the papers, books, articles that they read to ramp up on the technology, the ideas they generate and pursue to grow the open source project, engagement metrics with the SRI International researchers, contributions to the open source projects hosted on Github and, finally, a presentation at DevPulseCon 2020 on their individual projects/contributions with evaluation from the audience in the form of survey feedback. This project benefits the CodeChix community of over 500 women engineers and TPM’s in the bay area alone. The ability to showcase the innately and highly talented technical women in the industry through open source contributions towards projects hosted by world class institutions such as SRI International provide the community with a much-needed method to stand out in a technical interview as they seek to grow their technical careers.

CyberPatriots/HocoHacks Hackathon

CyberPatriot is a national competition where high school and middle schools teams complete cyber security challenges. These challenges include hardening operating systems (Linux and Windows) and securing networks (Cisco Packet Tracer). Last year, the team reached national semifinals. This year, Centennial CyberPatriot has expanded to two teams, and we hope to reach national finals.

HocoHacks Hackathon is a student run group that organizes a countywide hackathon for all middle and high school students. This includes contacting potential sponsors, purchasing prizes, organizing the competition schedule, and contacting speakers and judges. The hackathon event is usually in the spring and lasts around 9 hours. Last year, the hackathon hosted 50 students, a mini gaming competition, and multiple raffles for students to gain tech-related prizes. The hackathon provides the opportunity for students to explore their creative ideas using technology. Throughout the competition day, the hackathon also hosts several workshops to teach inexperienced hackers.

HocoHacks Hackathon – Provide an opportunity for middle school and high school students to collaborate on coding projects and compete for prizes. Our Hackathon also gives new and aspiring hackers a chance to learn more about programming and project creation. Last year’s hackathon included 50 participants. This year we aim to increase participation to 75 hackers for the 9 hour competition. Through this grant, we would like at least 25% of the participants to walk away with STEM-related prizes.
CyberPatriots – Inspire Centennial High School students toward careers in cybersecurity or other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines critical to our nation’s future. One student on a Centennial High School CyberPatriot team needs $41 in financial assistance for CyberPatriots competition registration.
HocoHacks – The competition is open to all middle and high school students, and primarily benefits the student hacker enthusiasts.
CyberPatriot – Our team is open to all students attending Centennial High School to develop their interests in cybersecurity and networking.

San Francisco Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon 7

Every half year or so, I run the San Francisco Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon. Next April will be the 7th one in SF, and the 4th one that I’ve run (usually I rope in a second person to run it with me who’s a different person every time). Last hackathon’s projects ranged from Exploding Laptop to Fax Your Senator Their Horoscope (full list: The aim is to have fun, and it is hosted at Noisebridge Hackerspace where participants also have the opportunity to learn to use equipment or skills from each other. The fact that it is a stupid hackathon provides a low pressure environment for people to try new things. Noisebridge provides infrastructure for everything from sewing to laser cutting to electronics. Stupid Hackathon benefits residents of San Francisco who come for the event, and then realize that they can come to Noisebridge anytime to use the equipment, space, and community in the future.

STEAM Workshops in MN Schools for the Deaf

We are applying for support of a STEAM program for Deaf children led by undergraduate students at the University of St. Thomas (through the Playful LEarning Lab). In our weekly workshops, we are bringing STEAM projects to Metro Deaf School and Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf. Our Metro Deaf School workshops are held weekly with middle school students, while our Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf workshops are held once-twice a month with elementary school students. We focus on providing introductory-level activities and lessons for students to learn science and engineering concepts while integrating the Next Generation Science Standards into the program’s curriculum. Through projects such as Oobleck, Art Bots, parachutes, and egg drop, students are learning about the Engineering Design Process and how to overcome challenges that they may encounter. Some of these challenges arise when they seemingly “fail” at a project, but it is important for them to understand that these are not failures, but rather ways to continue improving and learning more about what they are working on. Through these workshops, we are hoping to endorse interdisciplinary learning in the STEAM fields to encourage playful learning in the classroom. During these workshops we are focusing heavily on the use of art in STEM topics (to create STEAM) and how this may change the way that students tackle challenges or approach these projects. The goals of this project are to teach students about the STEAM fields through interdisciplinary learning. We are focusing on the A (art) in STEM and how this will affect the ways that students are completing projects and attacking the challenges that they are faced with. At the end of these workshops, we are hoping to see a higher level of student value of each project and an increase in overall positive views of their work. Rather than being discouraged by projects that don’t work at first, we want students to be able to analyze how they can improve and have a desire to try again. This project will benefit the Deaf Community, specifically that of the Metro Deaf School and Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf communities. It is beneficial to these communities because it will introduce new STEAM concepts that are not usually taught to these students. Although the students may already know some of these concepts, we want them to be more exposed to what interdisciplinary learning is and how they can personally benefit from it.


While computer science is one of the most rapidly-developing, profitable, and essential fields of study in the modern world, it is also unfortunately one of the most stratified. The grim fact of reality is that an early exposure to computer science is critical for becoming competitive in the field, but disadvantaged and underprivileged communities commonly fail to have the economic resources that could empower new generations to take it up as their study of choice. InspireCS, an initiative founded in affiliation with the local student-led nonprofit Inspire Potential ( hopes to change that in the Greater Houston area, by directly targeting underfunded communities with a week-long camp. We hope to minimize the cost as much as possible, to keep the barrier to entry low, as well as provide notebooks, laptops, and any other materials necessary for study, to all participants, free of additional charge. Additionally, videos of the courses, as well as any other digital resources that could be useful, will be available for free perusal on our website, at Through this initiative, we hope to create a new incentive for potentially hundreds of students in one of America’s largest cities to take up computer science as a field of study, overcoming backgrounds that would have otherwise prevented it. The overall goal is to reach as many underprivileged students with our camps and lessons as possible. Towards this end, our first concrete milestone we hope to achieve is to have at least five lessons in the coming year, with twenty different groups of students in each, thus reaching a hundred students. After that, we hope to be able to expand with additional team members so that many classes can be offered at once, as well as expanding the scope of the curriculum, but that will come only after passing the first milestone. Having the money to afford laptops for each child in every class will go a long way to attaining these results quickly, with more concrete benefits for the students involved. The community we hope that this project will benefit most is the poorer and underprivileged students of the Greater Houston area. By providing the educational resources and stimulation of interest in the field of computer science to a wide audience of students that would normally never have this opportunity, we hope that those that gain a newfound interest in computer science will then have the tools and passion to craft their own future in tech. Given the tech industry’s profitability and prestige as a career option, in the long term, what we are hoping to see is a slow and steady rise in the living standard and quality of life of those students we teach, as well as by extension, their families and neighborhoods. To be able to carry this out would be a heart-warming sea change of positive socioeconomic benefit for the entire Houston community.


ZooSense aims to build installations that enrich the zoo experience for visiting children with visual impairments. We are partnering with the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA. Though the zoo is ADA compliant, the accessible experience still feels very much like an add-on instead of a built-in: educational signs must be read by a sighted companion or trained zoo docent, animal sightings must be supplemented by verbal descriptions. We want to design and build exhibit installations that engage with multiple senses so children with visual impairments can experience wonder and inspiration when visiting the zoo.

Thus far we’ve experimented with is a tactile-audio installation for an armadillo exhibit. A visitor interaction could go like this:
– The child approaches the installation – in this case, a table with multiple parts on top – and hears audio instructions letting them know that as they touch the various parts they’ll hear audio information.
– The child reaches their hands out and feels a model of an armadillo. They run their hands over it and get an ideal of how big the animal is relative to themselves. They feel the textured armor, the ridges of the armor bands.
– As they pause their hands on the back, audio plays describing the function of the armor and how certain species can roll themselves up into an armored ball.
– The child moves their hands and lingers on the armadillo mouth. Audio plays describing that when an armadillo is threatened, it makes a sound like this: *sound*.

Through these multi-sensory installations, children with visual impairments can understand more about animals that they would have by just hearing a verbal description by a volunteer or companion.

The end result will be a trial installation at the Woodland Park Zoo. If that is successful, measured through qualitative feedback from zoo visitors such as children with and without visual impairments and their companion(s), the zoo will handle development of further such installations and can use the prototype to request funding to do so.

We currently have a proof-of-concept prototype built during a one week hackathon.

Intermediate goals will be:
– A more developed prototype that looks more realistic and could be integrated into the zoo.
– A usability study/focus group to test how people interact with the prototype and how they feel about it.
– A revised prototype based on the results of the usability study.

The Woodland Park Zoo is not only an ethical, award-winning nonprofit zoo, but it’s the leading zoo of the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area. It serves over a million visitors annually including families and those on school field trips, many of whom have visual impairments. This community is historically underserved at zoos; the Woodland Park Zoo has worked diligently to improve their offerings for visitors with all disabilities through preparation materials, sensory aids, and more thorough training of volunteers, but there is much work to be done in terms of improving the actual exhibits to make them more consumable to visitors with visual impairments and other disabilities. Thus our project to develop tactile-audio installations would aid this community.

However, through Inclusive Design our project will garner the same benefits for visiting children without visual impairments; consuming information through multiple senses is proven to result in greater information retention. The Woodland Park Zoo’s mission is to inspire a movement of people to embrace and act for wildlife conservation, but as the zoo staff told us, the word “conservation” is a scary word and an abstract concept. Our project will be designed to help visitors understand what conservation is and why it’s important on a more direct level. ZooSense will hopefully allow visiting children to empathize more with animals, understand how individual everyday actions can impact these animals, and be inspired to take action to protect these animals. Thus our project could, via a butterfly effect, impact the small-scale actions that add up to the conservation of the planet in coming years.

STEM Scouts at Valverde ES

STEM Scouts – Denver focuses on fun ways for all students to learn more about science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Using hands-on activities, STEM Scouts also encourages young minds’ natural curiosity and helps build interest in the STEM-related careers that are so crucial to our future economy.

Working to provide more students the opportunity to participate, STEM Scouts – Denver works with schools, families, school districts, volunteers, corporate funders and other sources of funding to bring STEM education opportunities to all students, regardless of where they grow up.

With more jobs and careers shifting to automation and artificial intelligence, STEM Scouts – Denver brings engaging curriculum for students to try, fail, identify areas to improve and try again; providing hands-on opportunities reinforces what students are learning in a classroom, more traditional-schooling method.

STEM Scouts – Denver is proud to be 100% volunteer run. But, we need help in reaching more students in the Valverde neighborhood (80223) by raising the funds required to cover the cost of our engaging programming. We want to recruit students at Valverde Elementary School (2030 W Alameda Ave, Denver, CO 80223) to participate, learn and join our STEM Scouts Lab.

STEM Scouts – Denver’s goals are to recruit and enroll more Valverde Elementary School students to participate and learn from hands-on STEM projects. We will measure the success in reaching our goal by increasing our membership and student participation. We expect our end result to be more Valverde students knowing what type of STEM career paths are available through learning from our hands-on, project-based STEM curriculum.

The half-year (14 weeks) curriculum costs $150 per student. We hope to raise $1,500 to cover the cost of 10 students to participate in our STEM Scouts Lab.

As more and more jobs are automated and the careers coveted by employers continue to change, we are eager to bring our programming to communities and schools with students and families who have no other outlets for STEM education. Students at Valverde Elementary School would be exposed to a variety of STEM curriculum to inspire their creativity and desires to find STEM careers as they continue from Elementary School to Middle School and beyond.

Scouting for Success

Ignite Robotics, FIRST Robotics Competition Team 6829, was founded in the summer of 2017 to meet the needs of students in the community who could not otherwise participate in a robotics team. Our membership is comprised of students from public, private, and home schools. Our team fosters a supportive and family-like environment for students of all experience levels, skill sets, and backgrounds – open to students and mentors without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or learning differences. We strive to inspire and develop strong technical, business, and leadership skills in high school students through designing, building, and programming a 125-pound robot. Each January a new game, with fresh engineering challenges, is announced, and the team has 8 weeks to design and build a new robot.

FRC competitions end in elimination matches, where we join an alliance with two other teams. A key part of FRC gameplay is to select teams that will complement Ignite’s skills to form the best alliance during final matches, so during prior “qualification” matches we collect data on other teams. First, a group of “robot scouts” watches every match and collects quantitative performance data on every team in real time. Another group of “alliance scouts” talks with teams and watches their interactions and gameplay. This data is analyzed before the final rounds to select best-fit teams for our alliance and to determine how to play against other alliances. For Ignite’s first two competition seasons this was done with pencil and paper, and the resulting analytical product was rudimentary. This year, the strategy team has written an Android-based app that can be used by the scouts to collect and synthesize data in real time, which will result in much more sophisticated products to help guide the team to victory.

The goal of Scouting for Success is to enable Ignite to have immediate access to pre and post match data through the use of our team-developed scouting app. Our scouts will collect data in real time that covers every facet of a robot’s performance. Then our strategy team and student coach will utilize this data to optimize our team’s scoring strategy during qualification matches. Ultimately the data will be used in putting together an eliminations alliance that complements the skills of our team and allows us the best chance of success in the competition. At the end of the season the strategy sub-team will put together a survey to assess the benefits of using the app vs pencil and paper. It is assumed that the resulting data not only will be easier to access and more accurate, but inputting the data will be easier as well. Our diverse team includes many students typically underserved and underrepresented in STEM fields. Females represent almost a quarter of our team while more that a third of our students are minorities. We also have several neurodivergent students and more than half of Ignite’s students do not attend typical brick and mortar schools. These students, who will be utilizing these resources as scouts, gain skills in statistical analysis and practical math skills. Additionally, students interested in programming will contribute to coding the app and gain valuable computer science skills.

Beyond Ignite, the app will be open sourced and available to many other FIRST Robotics Competition teams— especially those in Georgia, with the goal of helping those students even beyond our team learn these valuable skills.

3D Print Club

I host 3D Print Club (!event/2019/12/3/3d-print-club) on Tuesday nights at the Claremont Makerspace. I am a paying member and a volunteer. This is my way to try to get people as excited about 3D printing and modeling as I am. I tend to be project-based in my approach to learning and encourage people attending the club to pick passion projects that will get them modeling.

One of my go-tos have been the creation of little Arduino bots (based on the excellent 2020bot Instructable by Jay Francis). The bodies are initially foam but once built can easily be transitioned to a laser cut or 3D printed frame. I have been paying for parts out of pocket, but it gets expensive and I am always scrambling to replace broken electronics.

I would like to fund twenty kits for the Claremont Makerspace and offer them to 3D Print Club attendees with the caveat that once they build one they must help someone else build one. I taught a couple of robot arm classes for the Kenton County Public Libraries in Kentucky that utilized this philosophy and it was extremely successful. Everyone is invested as their “prize” is a robot (and hopefully a new friend).

The robot building would culminate in a robot dance party and sumo competition.

TLDR: Pay-it-forward robot building club.

The Claremont Makerspace is a community space and activities there encourage teens and adults to see it as both resource and safe place to engage in creative activities. By making the activity free from a monetary expensive, it attracts a participant who may otherwise be out on the streets or otherwise in trouble. Community members empowered to build a robot and then help someone else build a robot may also become champions or assistants in their classrooms or at the Makerspace in subsequent programs.

Success will be measured by a beginning and end of program survey completed by participants. It will assess both knowledge gained and whether they enjoyed the activities.

Subsequent programs will take these surveys into account to continue to tweak the program for maximum effectiveness.

I have been very lucky that my 3D Print Club has attracted a wide range of men and women aged ten to over seventy. We are open and encouraging to everyone. I am very hopeful that the robot kits will continue to appeal to a wide audience.

The majority of attendees to 3D Print Club have been young women, I’m assuming this is because I’m introduced as a potential female mentor during my volunteer hours to those who tour the makerspace.

The dance party will be open to the community and will hopefully continue to spark more interest in building robots.


CarolinaCon is a hacking conference hosted in Charlotte NC, that strives to connect the North Carolina information security and hacking community. Currently, CarolinaCon is organized and ran by the 49th Security Division, an ethical hacking club based at UNC Charlotte, and other community leaders. With the help of the No Starch Press Foundation, we hope to create a more inclusive conference that is true to the hacker spirit of sharing ideas and connecting many aspiring students, makers, breakers, and industry professionals. CarolinaCon hosts events that spans from a Capture the Flag competition, to hacker jeopardy and badge creation. We plan to host a complete event that will benefit all attendees. In regards to planning, we have already booked and announced our location, hotel offering and we plan to announce our Call for papers in the coming few days. We plan to host a conference April 10-11th 2020, in Charlotte North Carolina. This Conference will continue to connect the North Carolina tech communities.

RoboCrash Competition: Fearless with Robotics!

Decatur Makers, a family-friendly makerspace, will host RoboCrash Competition: Fearless with Robotics event in the style of an antweight battlebot game, engaging makers of all ages to ignite interest, and encourage and develop robotics skills.

To host this, Decatur Makers will compile an affordable remote-control robot kit for purchase that includes everything for a simple robot that competitors will build, program, and personalize with unique tactical features to beat adversaries. We’ll also design and build an arena for the competition.

Anyone from the Atlanta area will be able to enter the competition; This includes boys and girls of all ages, especially those from underserved communities. To make it more accessible to a broader community, we will provide needs-based scholarships for youth to obtain free robot kits, and offering free workshops on assembly and coding of the kits. The RoboCrash Competition: Fearless with Robotics! event will expose our community to Arduino and remote control technologies, building with motors, and coding all wrapped up in the thrill and excitement of a game environment, with the hope that many will find new skills and passions.

Our goal is to support makers, regardless of their level of experience or age, in their journey through the world of robotics with the support of a like-minded community that likes to build, share, and explore together.

Decatur Makers, a makerspace, has a similar ethos of a hacker community that likes to push boundaries, learn through the making of mistakes, and create for the fun of it as well as for practical purposes and for the betterment of the larger community. For this particular project, our first endeavor in engaging a larger group of makers interested in robotics, we hope to successfully sign-up a sizeable, diverse group of robot-building competitors. We hope to support and encourage this group through free workshops to help build and code the robots as well as other competitor engagement to create community around this interest. Our success will be measured by whether this group actually attends and competes in the RoboCrash Competition.

As a result of this event, Decatur Makers hopes to continue to fan the flame of interest and kickoff a Robotics club where this group creates a supportive community to lead discussions and share their skills to help others that are interested in robotics.

Hands-on education in the form of making and building teaches new skills, increases knowledge, and has the added benefit of teaching collaboration, critical thinking, and communication that can open the door to positive community impact. The RoboCrash Competition: Fearless with Robotics! project is our initiative to create a supportive, friendly environment for our community to think creatively, and make mistakes, while learning about robotics.

Decatur Makers is a welcoming, family-friendly makerspace (we allow members as young as 11 years old) with a diverse membership from all over the Atlanta area who learn and make interesting things using our tools and equipment; Our greatest asset is this wonderfully supportive community which strives to educate people to learn and create. We intentionally engage with the greater Atlanta area where hundreds of people participate with us in various ways including building communal projects, volunteering with our youth outreach, and sharing their skills. We offer classes, both paid and free, as well as host free club meetings to support various interests that are all open to the public. We have grown into a valuable community resource that directly helps address educational needs, builds community, and fosters economic opportunities for people of all ages, skill sets, and backgrounds.

Currently, the community we serve is about 50/50 men and women, about 60/40 white and a diverse non-white population, and about 30% are K-12th grade youth.

This past year, we’ve reached almost 1,500 K-12th grade youth with our STEAM and making outreach programming. Although we’ve hosted several coding workshops, we’ve not been able to support the growing interest in robotics due to funding needs.

Hands-on easy antenna prototyping workshops for WiFi/4G/LoRa

We’re a group of volunteers who run a local mesh network in Oakland, CA (, which we organize out of our hackerspace sudo room. Two to four times a year we run an open workshop called Build Your Own Internet (BYOI), which is made up of a series of hands-on activities and a one hour talk or panel on the technical, social and ethical aspects of how the internet works.

Previously we’ve had such activities as outdoor ethernet cable crimping, mounting and testing of long-range point-to-point wireless links, flashing OpenWRT onto consumer wifi routers, basic linux wifi commands and making jewelry out of lengths of copper wire equivalent to how far a signal travels through it in 1 nanosecond.

In 2020 we’d like to add a new activity: Learning about antennas by making, testing and modifying PCB and wire antennas.

Participants will cut conductive copper tape into shapes and stick it onto plain FR4 (circuit board material). They will then get to test the resonance frequency of their improvised PCB and wire antennas using a Vector Network Analyzer and perform a rough check of antenna directionality by hooking them up to a transmitter and pointing them at different strategically-placed directional receivers. We expect much testing and re-tweaking of shapes to get the resonance frequency just right.

We’ll include a very brief presentation on guidelines for making different kinds of antennas and have volunteers to answer questions throughout.

This workshop won’t require any prior experience and will be open to all ages (under 18 to be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Everything but the copper tape and wire will be re-usable for later workshops.

For anyone interested we’ll have a follow-up session for translating the designs into KiCAD and ordering them from a PCB manufacturing company.

The main goal is to engage members of the local community in thinking about a part of our communications infrastructure that’s usually invisible, and hopefully to learn something and have fun along the way. We want to convey a sense that the technologies we rely on every day for our internet connectivity are not out of reach for improvement and creative modification by individuals and small groups.

We will document the experience on our blog and wiki, including how many attendees we have and how many antenna prototypes were built and tested. We’ll also provide material to help others who want to run a similar workshop.

A secondary goal is to test the viability of this method of rapid PCB antenna prototyping for e.g. open hardware projects by getting a sense of the difference between the hand-prototyped antennas and the equivalent professionally manufactured antennas.

This will benefit anyone local to the SF Bay Area interested in how wireless signals and antennas work. Based on attendance at previous events we expect a wide range of experience levels from young kids to licensed HAM radio operators.

We’ll document this effort on our wiki and blog to make it easy for others to set up a similar antenna workshop, and we’ll share our successes and failures so others can improve upon the experience. We expect that this method of prototyping antennas is relatively unknown and may also be of use to more seasoned electronics engineers. We hope to provide actual numbers on the deviation between “copper tape on plain FR4” and the same design manufactured by a PCB manufacturing facility.

Our hackerspace is located walking distance from public transit (BART) and is wheelchair accessible. We distribute fliers to other local community spaces and colleges/universities. The attendance of previous workshops has varied from 10 to 60+ depending on venue (we held one at a local library) and how much energy we put into spreading the word.

Pi-Zero go unpro kit and workshop

Put together a kit and curriculum for a Raspberry Pi Zero based project with a camera and GPS chip to go through at Circuit Hacking Monday at Noisebridge Hackerspace in San Francisco.

Using a prototype I’ve logged thousands of pictures with so far it would be wonderful to be able to share some of the electronics skills I’ve learned and help people make something they might want to use and improve with some custom hardware and software.

The curriculum will be designed to be covered over four weeks, and by the final week they should have a pi-zero with a camera they can take pictures with all over the place and be able to upload them wirelessly. All of the required materials and equipment will be provided to the students (minus the pi zeros due to quantity restrictions on orders and batteries due to my lack of knowledge) and ideally the material should be modular enough that they shouldn’t have to make it every week to learn something cool and participate. This project will expose beginners to soldering, code (shell, python and node.js & JS scripts), custom PCB design, 3d modeling/printing and some relevant basics about electronics. There will be limited pi zeros and GPS modules for people with financial need but all other materials and tools will be provided and another raspberry pi.

The lasting result should be have easy to follow steps for a beginner electronics enthusiast to put together components and have their own personal computer (raspberry pi zero) with a camera for less than $50, all powered by almost any 5 volt out device (like most phone chargers). In person instruction as well as materials will be provided to people who attend Circuit Hacking Monday at Noisebridge in San Francisco over a four week period. We should be able to stock up the circuit hacking and general electronics inventory for Noisebridge and post to the Noisebridge social media accounts with pictures of the equipment and consenting hackers thanking No Starch Press or the grant if desired. We should see an increase in our meetup and attendance for Circuit Hacking Monday which we can see how our meetup RSVPs and attendance

We should also be able to generate lots of pics through our devices, which participants should be free to hack in to dash cams, security cameras, or strap it to their bike like me.
I’ll also work through another model with the class and leave it with the Circuit Hacking Monday examples.

Circuit Hacking Monday and Noisebridge would see the most material gain if this project receives funding. The costs for individual components will be broken down and instructions and open source code will be made available to anyone, so it can potentially help the maker community and Raspberry Pi enthusiasts in particular.

Expand Robotics for All

Robotics for All is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded and run by students at Gunn High School, Palo Alto. The mission of Robotics for All is twofold: to teach free robotics classes to students in low-income communities and to provide opportunities for high schoolers to teach the classes. Since its inception in November 2017, Robotics for All has taught over 400 students at six schools in Silicon Valley and two schools in the Greater Boston Area. All locations are elementary schools with 50% or more students from low-income families. Robotics for All’s classes are run weekly, after school, with ninety minutes a class and seven classes per session. Classes are taught with LEGO Mindstorms EV3 equipment, with the goal of inspiring students to pursue further STEM learning and participate on a robotics team in middle and high school. There are three levels of curriculum for 1st-5th grade students, teaching a variety of concepts including coding, engineering design, and competition strategy.
Robotics for All is run almost entirely by high school students, with over 30 active high school volunteers. There are also seven high schoolers who serve on Robotics for All’s Board of Directors, giving them a unique educational opportunity.
Robotics for All is working on expanding its program to more schools next semester and is planning to develop a curriculum for middle school students. It costs approximately $1,800 to purchase the equipment (LEGO Mindstorms EV3 kits, laptops, batteries, miscellaneous supplies).
With the requested funding of $1,500, Robotics for All will be able to purchase most of the equipment to expand to one new school. The additional funding needed ($300) will be supplemented with private donations that will be raised this holiday season. With one new school, Robotics for All’s goal the first school year is to teach three sessions with twelve students each, taught by four high school volunteers.
There are two main goals of Robotics for All classes: 1. Inspire students to participate in a future robotics competition (Robotics for All teaches with the same equipment used in the First LEGO League) 2. Spark students’ interests in the fields of STEM. One Robotics for All class obviously won’t give students all STEM skills, but the goal is to make them more interested in STEM such that they will seek future opportunities to learn more.
Robotics for All measures its goals through an anonymous online survey administered to students at the end of the session. The survey asks how students felt about the curriculum, volunteer teachers, and the class in general. One question in specific is “After this class, are you more interested in a STEM related job?” On average, about 70% of students respond yes to the question.
The end result of this project within one school year should be 36 students taught, with around 70% of students indicating greater interest in STEM fields on the end of the session survey. As Robotics for All classes are run by volunteers, there is very little upkeep cost to continue running its classes. Thus, the equipment purchased with this grant will be used for years of classes, with 36 students/year.
This project will benefit students in low-income communities and high school volunteers. For students in low-income communities, it is generally very difficult for their families to afford robotics classes. By providing free robotics classes, this project exposes STEM to students who otherwise would not have. This project will make STEM and the hacker community accessible by more students.
By providing high school volunteers an opportunity to volunteer, high schoolers gain teaching experience. Teaching material requires a higher level understanding of the material, so the volunteers learn more about robotics through teaching it.