Cleantech Hackathon

October 15 – 16th, 2016

Interest in clean technology solutions is booming, from new clean power sources to power conservation, and ways to improve and preserve our environment! We’re hacking cleantech solutions for 32 hours to find new applications and approaches to energy and environmental problems. There are $5000 in cash prizes distributed among the following award categories:

  •       •Best Advanced Buildings Solution
  •       •Best Renewables Solution
  •       •Best Clean Transportation Solution
  •       •People’s Choice
  •       •Most Likely To Be Commercially Successful


In addition, All participating hackers will receive a 1 month free membership to the TVCOG to continue working on their prototypes! Join us! Also check out the Press Release!







Problem Statements

To facilitate the ideation process and provide some ideas of problems that people are trying to solve in the cleantech space, below are some problem statements from key players in the industry. Hackathon projects are not limited to solutions for problems listed below, it is simply meant as an example (and more examples will be added soon).

Advanced Buildings

  1. 1.) New York has a large stock of older buildings. Over 80% of existing buildings were built before the first energy code and oil embargo of the 70’s. Deep energy retrofits reductions of 60-70% of the existing building energy have high first costs and long payback. Technology and business innovations are need to unlock the tremendous potential in energy savings and greenhouse reductions from deep energy retrofits of existing buildings.
  2. 2.) Lack of interoperability between the various systems in the building (lighting, HVAC, on-site generation, storage) and use of generated and other data (occupancy, weather, etc) causes buildings to be dumb and non-responsive (static). Technology and business innovations are need to enable smart buildings. Example: Detecting or inferring the number of occupants to be in a room for a given time and adjusting in advance the heating/cooling accordingly.
  3. 3.) Data being generated, captured and/or available from other sources is not being mined to extract value in savings energy in buildings, reducing GHGs, enabling preventive maintenance/continuous commissioning, generating productivity and offering resiliency.


    1. 1.) Making Solar PV and Wind energy predictable (firming) is a huge challenge DERs are facing. There is vast material available on the internet regarding forecasting, storage etc and many strategies to make Solar PV and Wind power a smooth, predictable power source.

      Clean Transportation

      1. 1.) Making forms of transportation such as walking and biking more appealing is important for clean transportation alternatives. Hardware/software solutions that use on-street installations to improve bike and pedestrian safety can be an important part of that appeal.


      Originality - 20%

      How original is the idea? Is it completely new and unique, or is it similar to something else? We LOVE new ideas and concepts!

      Execution - 20%

      How well did the team translate the idea into reality over the course of the hackathon?

      Demo - 20%

      Can the team convince the judges that theirs should reign supreme? The demo is where the team can prove their solution has what it takes!

      Multidisciplinary – 20%

      Solutions that tap a wide range of talent, expertise and diverse backgrounds have an advantage in the judging process.

      WOW Factor – 20%

      Knock us OUT with your brilliant solution! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!



      9:00am – Doors open at Tech Valley Center of Gravity, participants check-in
      10:00am – Opening Ceremony and Orientation
      10:30am – Pitches and Team Formation – Hacking Begins!
      1:00pm – Lunch
      3:00pm – Unconference Session 1
      5:00pm – Unconference Session 2
      7:00pm – Dinner

      12:00am – Midnight Snack
      7:30am – Breakfast
      12:00pm – Lunch
      2:00pm – Hacking Ends – Demos begin
      3:45pm – Demos & Judging end
      4:00pm – Awards and Closing Ceremonies

      Mentors & Judges

      Nathan Bain


      I’m the Senior Software Engineer for the New York State Mesonet project, a network of 125 high-quality weather stations spread across the state of New York. I manage the data archive, write the software to access the data archive, and maintain the website. I moved to New York after 14 years with the Oklahoma Mesonet, though I grew up in Tennessee. All types of scientific datasets interest me, especially environmental data and GIS. I’ve worked on projects throughout the US, in Canada, and in West Africa. In my free time I enjoy going on hikes and watching cat videos (but not at the same time).

      Philippe Beaucage


      Philippe Beaucage PhD has over 12 years of experience in the wind and solar industries and has been part working at AWST since 2008. His current role at AWST is Lead Research Scientist. He is involved in company-wide R&D projects related to, among others, resource assessment, forecasting and grid integration for both wind and solar energy applications. As Lead Research Scientist, Philippe acts as a principal investigator on R&D projects and as the lead technician on other projects, while also supporting and guiding the work of others in the R&D team. His main area of expertise is numerical modeling for meteorological applications. Philippe studied at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique (Quebec, Canada) and has a Ph.D. degree in Energy. He also holds a M.Sc. degree in Physics.

      Joseph Borowiec


      Joseph Borowiec is the Building Innovations Team Leader at NYSERDA, and has been with NYSERDA for 14 years.  Joe is responsible for leading a team focused on making investments in innovations that improve the efficiency and resiliency of existing and new buildings in NYS, and enable smart buildings to actively manage energy use and interact with the power grid. Joe is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, and serves on the Gas Technology Institute Public Interest Advisory Committee.

      Prior to joining NYSERDA, Joe was employed for 21 years as a research engineer at General Electric’s Global Research Center.  Joe holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, a MS in Computer Science, and a MBA in International Management from Union College.  He has 21 United States Patents.

      Jerry Brotzge


      Dr. Jerry Brotzge is the Program Manager for the New York State Mesonet.  A native of Kentucky, Dr. Brotzge received his BS in meteorology in 1994 at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO, and his MS (1997) and PhD (2000) in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.  He worked for the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) before moving to New York in 2014.  Dr. Brotzge has a long history of working with meteorological data from a variety of surface in situ and remote sensing hardware.

      Renee Devine


      Renee started her career in energy in 2001 joining the NYISO. There she supported the development of software applications for power markets, big data and energy trading. She joined Siemens Energy in 2008 as the Manager of Siemens Power Academy, a global training unit where she focused on developing and delivering Power, Transmission, and Distribution Training to Utilities, ISO and Power companies in the 91 countries they served.

      In 2014, Renee joined National Grid as the Commercial Leader for Energy Efficiency in Upstate New York where she supports the implementation of energy efficiency and energy conservation measures to National Grid’s Large Commercial and Industrial sector. In this role, Renee helps support the State’s Clean Energy Initiatives as well as the engaging large customers in the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) dialogue and how utilities will evolve to meet customer needs.

      Renee serves on the Board of Junior Achievement North East. She has a Master’s in Business with a focus on Management Information Systems from the University at Albany where she also received her undergraduate degree in business with a focus on Marketing.

      Eric Leander

      Mentor / Judge

      Eric currently leads the Emerging Ventures / Corporate & Securities practice group at The Wagoner Firm PLLC. Eric develops and manages a client base focused on technology and other high-growth startups together with small VC / Angel Funds, provides leadership and mentoring to law clerks and junior associates and assists other attorneys with corporate and securities law matters as needed. Eric focuses his practice on startups, emerging growth companies, investment / venture capital transactions, mergers and acquisitions and general corporate counsel.

      Eric currently represents a growing clientele of nearly 100 businesses (including several well recognized local startup companies and pre-existing businesses). Client reviews and feedback indicating the quality of Eric’s work and relationships with his clients is readily available online – https://www.upcounsel.com/profile/ELeander

      Beth Mosall


      Beth Mosall, LEED AP BD+C, is the Designer for Bette & Cring Construction. Born and raised in the Capital District, she is trained as an architect, and has been with Bette & Cring since 2005. There, she creates conceptual designs for Design-Build projects, leads the company’s 3D construction coordination through BIM models, and manages the company’s LEED projects across the state. In 2007, Beth designed the first LEED Platinum rated building in Upstate New York for Barton Mines in Glens Falls, NY, which was also a historic renovation. This experience led her to open her design consulting business, DBBM, to focus on projects at the intersection of sustainability, historic preservation, and affordability. Current projects include master planning a 64 unit multi-family development and a brownstone renovation. She received her Bachelors of Architecture from Cornell University in 2005.

      Jonathan Muckell

      Mentor / Judge

      Jonathan Muckell, Ph.D., is a faculty member at the University at Albany Computer Engineering Department. He earned his Ph.D. in Informatics from the University at Albany in 2013.  His dissertation received the University at Albany Distinguished Dissertation Award for his research on reducing the storage and computational demands required to analyze the huge volumes of data generated by Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS).  He previously graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a M.S. in Computer and Systems Engineering in 2008, and graduated for St. Lawrence University with a B.S. in Computer Science & Mathematics in 2006. He previously worked as an Enterprise Architect at the New York State – Office of the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) where he led the innovation and emerging technologies team. In that position, he was a member of the team that launched the New York State Open Data portal that won the New York State Team Award for Best Application Serving the Public.  His current research interests is improving assistive devices for people with disabilities combining hardware, software and 3D printing.

      Jeffrey Peterson


      As a longtime program manager at NYSERDA, my primary focus is on building the foundation for a customer-focused entrepreneurial ecosystem across New York to catalyze and facilitate the transition of ideas/inventions around clean energy markets into scalable business enterprises. Examples of programs in our portfolio include: Proof-of-Concept Centers to bring clean energy technology inventions out of the laboratory and turn teams into businesses; business incubators to mentor young companies to become investible business enterprises; and, executive transition and Entrepreneurs-in-Residence programs to provide quality leadership and counsel to early-stage companies and move them on a faster growth trajectory. 

      Ravindra Tetambe


      Proven track record of strong leadership and successful management of complex engineering and IT programs. Over 20 years experience in R&D. Very experienced in new product development, program management and release to manufacturing. Strengths include leadership, simultaneous management of large number of responsibilities, people networking, technical ability, program and resource management, business development, strong knowledge of process management, and the ability to learn very quickly. International Experience in USA, Germany, Mexico and India.

      Thomas Tongue

      Mentor / Judge

      Thomas Tongue is a co-founder and Executive Director of the Tech Valley Center of Gravity, a makerspace and business cultivator in downtown Troy, NY. He is a serial entrepreneur with an MBA from the Lally School at Rensselaer, and previously served as CEO of Zomega Terahertz Corporation, a hardware-focused company that commercialized terahertz technology from RPI for non-destructive testing and inspection. With his technical background and market experience, Thomas advises early stage companies on technology development and commercialization strategies.

      Bruce Toyama


      Bruce Toyama is an entrepreneurial leader with broad-based corporate experience, contributing over 20 years of achievement in (new business development, general management, sales management and) commercializing advanced material products into both new and existing markets.

      Bruce currently serves as Vice President of Product Development for BessTech (Albany, NY) a startup company commercializing transformative silicon-based anode technology for lithium-ion batteries developed at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), part of SUNY Polytechnic located in Albany, New York.

      In 2015, Bruce worked with upstate NY community leaders and the non-profit NYSTEC to co-found IgniteU NY, an early-stage student accelerator open to students from any Capital Region college or university. Bruce holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering (Graduate of Distinction) from the University of Illinois-Urbana. He has also received the Executive Leadership Certificate from Cornell University.

      Tom Vaccaro


      Tom Vaccaro is a biomedical and electrical engineering graduate from RPI. He recently began employment for a local startup, the Paper Battery Company, as a test engineer. His job is to develop new test protocols and build a deeper understanding of the electrical properties of the Company’s first supercapacitor product – the Power Responder. He designs and conducts experiments and analyzes test data. As a resident of Troy NY Tom looks forward to building a long career in electrical engineering and continuing to support the growing community in Troy.


      1.What hardware is going to be supported?

      We are hardware agnostic, whatever you want to bring in support of your projects is fine for the hackathon, so long as it is commercially available.

      2.What should we bring?

      Any hardware you might need for your build (if you think your project will need it). We have some resources at the TVCOG, but better to be safe than sorry!

      Also, if you think you’ll need a nap as the red bull fails you, bringing an air mattress and pillow might be a good call!

      3.Is it ok if we work through the night? Does it close overnight?

      You’re definitely welcome to power your way through to the finish! We are open overnight for this event, and many teams hack through the night.

      4.Do I have to be a student to participate?

      NO! We have a great mix of undergraduate & graduate students along with professionals and enthusiasts at the hackathon. Anyone aged 16 and above with a passion for making cleantech solutions is encouraged to participate!


      Need a place to crash during the hackathon? We recommend  Franklin Square Best Western , which is a few short blocks from the Tech Valley Center of Gravity.  We have negotiated a special event rate of $134/night for Friday, Oct 14th and Saturday, Oct 15th. You can get the discounted rate by mentioning “Center of Gravity Hackathon” when you make the reservation.

      Address & Contact Info:

      One Fourth Street, Troy, NY 12180
      Phone: (866) 708-2233 · (518) 274-8800
      Fax (518) 274-0427
      Email: info@franklinsquareinn.com

      Please note that capacity at Franklin Square is limited and is expected to be fill soon, so please consider making your reservation as soon as possible!