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Addy Cameron-Huff hacks his way to the top in Yahoo competition

Waterloo grad Addy Cameron-Huff (in red shirt) is the winner of the 2009 Yahoo Hack U finals in New York City. Photo: Rasmus Lerdorf

Cameron-Huff believes his background in science was a key factor in both his Hack U wins. “Science is a way of thinking, and I’m sure it will continue to help me in the future.”

Waterloo science grad Addy Cameron-Huff has a knack for solving problems, so it’s no surprise he was proclaimed the overall winner of the 2009 Yahoo Hack U finals held in New York City. Hack U is held across Canada and the U.S. and challenges students to develop a web application that solves a problem in 24 hours or less.

In New York, Cameron-Huff competed against teams from universities such as Berkeley, Cornell, and the University of Washington. Approximately 40 teams had just two minutes to present their hack.

For his winning entry, Cameron-Huff developed an innovative system for the financial markets. “My application would notify people when insider transactions become public knowledge,” he says. “It’s a great system because Google Finance and Yahoo Finance are outdated by a couple of days because their information provider doesn’t give them timely data.”

Cameron-Huff’s road to success actually began at Waterloo. He was inspired to enter the 2008 Waterloo Hack U event after attending an introductory session with Waterloo engineering grad and creator of the PHP programming code, Rasmus Lerdorf.

Cameron-Huff’s strong problem-solving skills paid off. He was automatically entered into the Hack U finals after winning the Waterloo event by building an application that tracks speeches made by Canadian politicians.

“I created a database that downloaded every speech made by MPs in Parliament over the last two years,” he says. “The database allows people to see what their MP has said on their behalf and shows various statistics for each political party so that constituents can see which issues are being raised in Parliament.”

Cameron-Huff believes his background in science was a key factor in both his Hack U wins. “Neither of my entries was the most technically sophisticated, but they did solve actual problems,” he says. “Science is a way of thinking, and I’m sure it will continue to help me in the future.”

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