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Joseph Hanrahan

Haley Olson. Photo from SCCC

Two Suffolk County Community College Computer Science students, Haley Olson and Joseph Hanrahan recently took top honors and a cash prize at the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) at Stony Brook University’s Sixth Annual Hackathon.

“I congratulate our students for excelling at this year’s Hackathon,” said Suffolk County Community College President Dr. Edward Bonahue. “Our students demonstrate year after year that they have the skills and training needed to succeed in demanding technology environments, and their accomplishments underscore the value of Suffolk County Community College’s education.”

Olson and Hanrahan created a game for the coding competition that utilized computer languages they learned on the fly.

“One challenge we ran into was not knowing JavaScript at all. It was a completely new language for us. HTML and CSS were relatively new to us too.  Also, we had to learn how to web scrape in order to get our NFT data for our project,” the pair wrote in their project description for their game, that “that informs the public about NFT’s as well as shows the shocking price tags.”

An NFT — non-fungible token — is a special kind of crypto asset in which each token is unique — as opposed to “fungible” assets like Bitcoin and dollar bills, which are all worth exactly the same amount. Because every NFT is unique, they can be used to authenticate ownership of digital assets like artworks, recordings, and virtual real estate.

Olson and Hanrahan’s game Guess the Most Expensive NFT involves a player choosing from among three random NFTs to guess which is most expensive. After finishing the game, the player can look at the information on each NFT via the links that appear under each picture.

Olson, of Port Jefferson Station, who will graduate in May with an Associates in Computer Science said the challenging part was learning the new languages. “We programmed using Java Script, HTML and CSS and learned how to create a web site, guessthenft.net,” Olson said. Olson previously earned a B.A. in actuarial science from SUNY Binghamton in 2020 and interned at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center last summer creating data visualizations for the radiology department’s finance manager.

Professor Bin Li had praise for the college’s program and students.

“Haley established a STEM students’ research club in the spring semester of 2022, and is serving as president of the club,” Li said, and explained that Haley and Joseph competed with 4-year college students and won the award for outstanding innovation in their project.”

“Our students have participated in Hackathon events hosted by Stony Brook University and won awards for three consecutive years,” Li said, “and several students are interned at top institutions, including 3DQI Lat at MGH, Harvard Medical School, Brookhaven National Lab.”