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Simon Guo can’t stop hacking

Upper Canada College hacker supreme Simon Guo didn’t rest on his laurels and achievements from the last school year.

The Year 11 boarding student helped organize the hack.init() hackathon in his hometown of Shanghai, China in July and had an impressive performance at the University of Waterloo’s Hack the North event in September after he returned to Canada.

Hackathons can best be described as “invention marathons” where people with an interest in technology gather to learn, build and share their creations over the course of a weekend.

“I contacted sponsors, arranged workshops, collected hacking resources and directed logistics-related work,” Guo says of hack.init(), which attracted 300 high school and university students.

“The hackathon became one of the largest ones in China, and students had the opportunity to create innovative solutions with rich resources and mentorship, and won prizes with a value of $100,000. We are planning on hosting it again this upcoming summer.”

Hack the North is the largest student hackathon in Canada, involving about 1,000 participants. This year Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about diversity and innovation at its opening ceremonies.

“It is an event where students get together to create innovative solutions and products for real-world problems with technologies from scratch in 36 hours,” says Guo.

Several influential companies — including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and IBM — sponsored Hack the North, which also included workshops and talks about trending technologies.

Smart bike rack

This is the smart bike rack that Guo and his teammates created at Hack the North.

Guo had his bicycle stolen over the summer, which led him, two university students and another high school student to band together to create a smart bike rack system that used computer vision, Internet of things and block-chain technologies at Hack the North.

“Different from many bike upgrade projects on Kickstarter, we focused on the bike rack itself, so users do not have to install anything on their bike,” says Guo. “It is totally secure and easy to use.”

Guo’s team was judged to be among the top 14 out of the 220 that took part in Hack the North.

Guo is part of the Toronto Hacker Club with UCC students Shaan Hooey, Gaurav Dogra and Robbie Knowles. The organization promotes computer science education across the Greater Toronto Area and is organizing a 24-hour hackathon for 300 high school and university students at the University of Toronto on Oct. 21 and 22.

Guo credits UCC computer science teachers Mark Hoel and Kevin Olds, as well as the school’s robotics club and digital media and computer science club, for developing his skills in technologies, coding and robotics over the past two years.

Guo plans to continue to attend hackathons and tech conferences while building his strengths in science, technology, engineering and math over his final two years at UCC. He’ll look for an internship at a tech company next summer to gain more experience.

Guo says he’ll also be involved in school bands, cross-country running and volunteering for the Horizons program, while learning Spanish and how to play guitar, “to keep a balanced school life.”

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