The Reality of Global Climate Change: A Mixed-Reality Hackathon

February 8-9, 2019
Yale University, Center for Collaborative Arts and Media
149 York Street, New Haven CT

About the Hackathon

One way to understand a problem is to look at it in a new way. Join your fellow students, along with climate scientists and technical mentors, for an intense day and a half to utilize virtual and augmented reality technologies to explore themes of global climate change.

Teams will create experiences on themes of global climate change using climate change data sets with virtual reality and augmented reality technologies. Climate change materials — datasets, photos, geo spatial data, etc. — will be provided by the Yale sponsors and external sponsors. Technical mentors and climate scientists will be in attendance to assist with the team work. Bring a team with you, or come alone and get matched up with others. No prior technical or programming experience required. Do come with a passion to learn, explore, and help communicate on the impacts of climate change.



Elena Bertozzi, Quinnipiac University, Associate Professor of Game Design & Development
Ted Dinsmore, Owner,
Steve Hart, Senior Customer Success Manager – Education, Adobe
Lisa Messeri, Yale University, Assistant Professor of Anthropology

Technical Mentors:

Eric Wilson, Spheregen, Unity
Andrew Guagliardo, Spheregen, Unity
Ron Burgess, Spheregen, Unity
Ashley Barbuito, Spheregen, 3D modeling
Bobby Berry, CCAM, technical liaison
Nicolas Furness, ESRI, ArcGIS specialist
Max Payson, ESRI, ArcGIS specialist
Michael Hazani, Magic Leap
Tricia Katz, Magic Leap

Climate Change Mentors:

Naomi Keena, Yale CEA, Climate Change & Built Environment
Mohamed Aly, Yale CEA, CLimate Change & Built Environment
Sophie Janaskie, CBEY / Tsai CITY, climate change issues
Victoria Hoyland, The Nature Conservancy
Cary White, The Nature Conservancy
Jennifer Marlon, Yale Programs on Climate Change Communication

Idea Champions:

Franz Hartl, Yale ITS
Nick Novelli, Yale CEA
Sheldon McLeod, Yale CEA
Abena Bonna, Yale CEA
Martin Wainstein, Yale Tsai CITY
Christianne Marguerite, The Nature Conservancy

Advisory Committee:

Justin Berry; Caitlin Harder; Franz Hartl; Sophie Janaskie; Naomi Keena; Jennifer Marlon; Jon Ozaksut; Randall Rode; Martin Wainstein; Amy Weinfurter

To get a sense of the Hackathon, check out last year’s event!


Attendance is open to members of the Yale Community — faculty, staff and students. Registration is required.


All activities take place at the Center for Collaborative Arts and Media at 149 York Street.

Friday Feb 8

Saturday Feb 9

3:00 – 5:00pm — Unity quickstart bootcamp (optional)

5:00 – 6:30pm — Check-in, Dinner

6:30 – 7:30pm — Opening talks: Inspirational ideas from climate change experts and introductions to the datasets and hackathon challenges. Speakers include Elena Bertozzi, Games for Good; Victoria Hoyland, Making a Difference;  Jon Ozaksut, Communicating About Climate Change; Nicholas Furness & Max Payson, Visualizing Data in 3 dimensions; Bobby Berry, Winning Tips for Your Team. 

7:30 – 10:30pm — Groups form, start sketching out ideas, gathering resources

8:00 – 9:00pm — Series of short tutorials on key technologies, deeper dives into supplied data sets

8:00am — Doors open, coffee and light breakfast snacks served

8:00am – 5:30pm — All teams working on projects

Noon — Lunch

2:00pm —  Afternoon Snack, teams register project name/team members

5:00pm — Dinner

5:30pm — Judging Begins

7:00pm — Final group presentations, Final Judging, Awards ceremony

Challenge Areas

1. Best use of extended reality* to bring the facts and figures of climate change into an experience that helps the viewer establish a personal connection and understanding of the key issues and impacts.

2. Best use of extended reality to visualize impact of global climate change on the built environment (i.e. sea level rise impact on shoreline communities) or to visualize the benefits to limiting the pace of climate change through new features of the built environment (i.e. green roof and natural cooling features in new construction.)

3. Best use of extended reality to create an empathetic experience for the victims of global climate change. (i.e forced relocation of impacted communities or changes to animal migration patterns)

*Extended reality or mixed reality refers to projects utilizing virtual reality, augmented reality, spatial audio and other technologies that create an immersive audience experience.


One Prize will be awarded to a team in each challenge category — along with one non-prize receiving runner up.

Teams are only eligible to win in one challenge area category.
One grand prize will be awarded, selected from the three challenge winners.

Prizes are only available to current college undergraduate or graduate students. Winning teams may include non-student members (i.e. Yale Faculty, technical mentors) but those individuals are ineligible to receive prizes.

Prize awards based on teams with 3 students. Larger teams will need to decide how best to divide prize items.

Teams are not required to target a specific challenge area (although they may.) It is understood that a project will evolve during the build process, and the final product may differ from the original intentions. Therefore, during the judging process, judges will use their discretion to best match the project to a challenge category. 

Be Prepared

You can utilize whatever technologies you’d like during the Hackathon. The technologies provided are the Windows Mixed Reality Headsets, Windows Hololens and Unity game development platform.

The full resources of the CCAM will be available.

Below are some tutorials and information you might want to review in advance. Also check-out the calendar on the CCAM website for upcoming workshops and guest artist visits.

View resources on the CCAM website

Unity Quickstart Guide

Preparation for all hackathon hackers in using the Unity Editor (for creating AR/VR experiences) and the Windows Mixed Reality Development Platform.


Magic Leap Creators Portal

Trailblazers, storytellers and dream chasers —new worlds are yours for the making. Become a Magic Leap creator and start pioneering the uncharted frontier of spatial computing.



Resources, documentation, demos, data and more to build AR/VR experiences with ESRI’s tools.



This event is co-sponsored by the following organizations:

Yale Center for Business and the Environment
Yale University Center for Collaborative Arts and Media
Center for Ecosystems in Architecture at Yale
Yale ITS
Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale
Yale Center for Business and the Environment
Yale Center for Business and the Environment
Yale Center for Business and the Environment
Yale Center for Business and the Environment
Yale Center for Business and the Environment