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Olin Student Takes Top Prize at LinkedIn Hackathon

Olin student Eric Miller emerged as one of the winners in this year’s LinkedIn Hackathon.

Miller, along with Liam Kelly of Vanderbilt University, Emmeline Kuo of Pomona College, Nhan Tran of the Colorado School of Mines, and Maura Winstanley of the University of Colorado-Boulder, cinched first place with their invention of the Intellipill, “an Internet-connected system that utilizes an Android app to set medicine reminders and remotely monitor elderly people by tracking their pill schedule.” The Intellipill team claimed the top spot over 45 other teams. Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States every year. That grim statistic is what led the five students to explore ways to reduce inconsistent and irregular pill dosing.  “Our integrated hardware and software demonstration showed that at the scheduled time in the app, the IoT pill rack reminds the elderly person which pill bottle to take via a buzzing sound and a colorful LED. The smart pill management system would ultimately grant peace of mind to caretakers, doctors, and children,” said Kuo.   

Olin student Eric Miller in a design nature class

Miller isn’t sure who came up with the exact idea for Intellipill, but he said the groups combined their varied interests to bring the product to fruition. “Some people were drawn by the idea of social work, and some people just wanted to get their hands on software,” Miller said.

Miller heard about the hackathon, which was open to interns in the Bay Area, through a friend. However, he ended up on a team with people he had never met before. “I’m proud at how fast and how well we came together,” said Miller.

This year’s LinkedIn Hackathon merged two hackathons--one purely technical, one concerned with business feasibility--into one competition. Presenting a launch plan to the panel of LinkedIn judges was a new experience for Miller, but he learned that understanding markets is almost as important as the product itself. “One of my teammates was actually a marketing intern, so we all brought diverse skills to the table.” Those diverse skill sets paid off in a big way; the Intellipill team won the $10,000 grand prize. The money will be split evenly between the team members.

“Something interesting I’ve noticed is that college hackathons have better pizza, but corporate hackathons have better cash prizes,” Miller joked. Miller is currently finishing up his summer as an engineering intern for Google.