Visitors test out the Combat Robotics at Cornell video game at the Bits on Our Minds showcase.

Technology showcase returns with a BOOM

Darren Key ’25 was tired of listening to the same lofi hip-hop songs on repeat while studying.

“I love lofi music,” he said. “My thought process was, if I create an infinite radio of lofi music, it would help me study better.”

So, the computer science major made his own endless stream of AI-generated lofi hip-hop music by turning songs into an array of numbers, and taking a similar approach to Stable Diffusion, a AI text-to-image generator. He admits that the music isn’t quite good enough for studying – he’s still tweaking the AI – but the project was impressive enough to earn him an award at the Bits On Our Minds (BOOM) technology showcase, held April 27 in the Duffield Hall atrium.

Joshua Blair demonstrates his invention – a digital device locker called The Bookkeeper – at the Bits on Our Minds technology showcase.

After a three-year pause due to COVID-19, BOOM returned to campus for its 25th anniversary. The event started in 1998 as a small showcase for computer science students, but is now hosted by the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science and features cutting-edge technology projects from across the university. Nearly 100 students presented 32 projects in the atrium, which was packed with visitors from Cornell and the broader Ithaca community.

Faculty from each department within Cornell Bowers CIS and representatives from seven corporate sponsors judged the projects. Selected teams received a trophy, certificate and $750 prize; Kavita Bala, dean of Cornell Bowers CIS, announced the awards.

“BOOM is a unique opportunity for students to demonstrate their technology projects to everyone from school kids to industry experts,” said Danica Rickards, program coordinator in Undergraduate Student Services at Cornell Bowers CIS, and BOOM committee chair. “They have a chance to really hone their ‘elevator pitches’ and get input from corporate sponsors.”

Among the projects presented at BOOM:

  • Ithaca Hunt, an app to help new students explore off-campus activities with friends;
  • Tree Folio, a city planning tool that converts remote sensing data collected by airplanes into a digital map of each tree and the shade it provides; and
  • the Bookkeeper, an invention that looks like a stack of books, but locks away mobile devices for a set time to help users focus.

The Ithaca High School Code Red Robotics team also attended the event with their 4-foot-tall robot, which lifts traffic cones and other objects and manuevers around to deposit them on shelves.

One popular project was Cosmic Swing, a computer game created by Francisco Kyriacou ’24, Ankit Lakkapragada ‘25, Emily Hong ‘23, Matthew Karwan ’24 and Joseph Tung ’24 for their CIS 3152 Intro to Game Development class. The team brought the game to BOOM to get feedback from users before putting on the finishing touches. The main character is a Martian who swings through spinning worlds using a rope-like appendage to collect resources for their dying home planet.

Participants demonstrated their new technology projects and competed for awards at BOOM.

Ana Suppé ’23, an environmental science and sustainability major, and Griffin Blotner ’24, an information science major, presented their initiative to increase e-waste recycling on campus. Currently, there is one e-waste drop box at Barton Hall, and the campus recycles more than 100 tons each year, but that number has remained stagnant for more than a decade.

They hope to create greater awareness of the issue and to work with Cornell Bowers CIS, Cornell Engineering, the campus sustainability office and Student and Campus Life to expand e-waste recycling options. “We’ve been talking with Facilities Management and other groups to get the ball rolling,” Suppé said.

All BOOM projects and descriptions are listed here. The awarded projects were:

Sponsor Awards (sponsors listed first)

  • Air Liquide: Tree Folio  
  • Boeing and LinkedIn: Xenophobia Meter
  • EY: Volume 
  • Goldman Sachs: Using VR to study food consumer behavior 
  • Pepsi and Sandia National Labs: AI-Learners  

Faculty Awards (department listed first)

  • Computer Science: LoFi Hip-Hop 
  • Information Science: Hack4Impact Earth Law Center Project
  • Statistics and Data Science: Tree Folio

Patricia Waldron is a writer for the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science.

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