Software Development

BookSwap: student book-trade site wins UMBC’s first student-run hackathon

A short recap of hackUMBC from Randi Williams, one of the co-organizers of hackUMBC and a sophomore at UMBC studying computer engineering.

Several students who participated in hackUMBC.

(Photos courtesy of Randi Williams)

The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, hosted hackUMBC over the weekend, the school’s first student-run hackathon. A total of 84 student-hackers made up 22 different teams during the 24-hour hackathon. Below is a short recap from Randi Williams, one of the co-organizers of hackUMBC and a sophomore at UMBC studying computer engineering.

The winning team was BookSwap and the two hackers were Rostislav Tsiomenko and Ilya Dynin. They built a website that makes it easier for students to trade books.


Holding the check is team BookSwap: Ilya Dynin, left, and Rostislav Tsiomenko. At center is professor and judge Tim Oates.

Typically, college students sell their books to the book store or textbook websites and they get ripped off. Otherwise, they try to post on Facebook or spread via word of mouth that they have a book they want to sell. This means money leaving the pockets of students and going to big businesses.

BookSwap solves this by making it easy for students to search for books they need and post books they are selling to other students on campus. Then the students can meet on campus and make exchanges quickly and easily. BookSwap’s goal is to be an open-source, easily customizable tool that someone at any school could set up.


Perry Ogwuche and Randi Williams, two of the four hackUMBC co-organizers. Photo courtesy of Randi Williams.

After the event I must say the whole team was really excited. Some of the hacks we saw were literally beyond our wildest dreams and the response that we got from the hackers, school faculty and administrators, and the companies who sponsored us was tremendous. Everyone was interested in doing more and going further with this idea of building products to solve problems.


A lot of people saw a different side of what computer science could be and became excited about it, just like Perry [Ogwuche] and I were after the summer. [Ogwuche and Williams were CODE2040 fellows this past summer, and participated in a hackathon during the 10-week program.] It was awesome!

At the school we definitely see some of the projects that were worked on actually becoming real tools that students will use. We’re also starting a club to have UMBC students go to other hackathons around the country and host more hackathons here.

Companies: UMBC
Projects: hackUMBC
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