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'Red Hot' coding

US Ignite founder Glenn Ricart addresses Red Hot Hack attendees Friday night at the Red Wing Ignite building. (Republican Eagle photo by Amanda Greenwood)

Red Wing Ignite, a non-profit organization providing business mentoring and technological resources, hosted its first-ever Red Hot Hack event this weekend with the goal of coding next-generation applications.

The focus of the three-day event was how a “gig network” has the potential to “change everything for a city,” according to the US Ignite website.

Brainstorming produced many ideas the first night and participants worked through Sunday developing the top ideas.

“Saturday we got down to brass tacks. People formed ad hoc teams based on project ideas and started hashing stuff out,” Red Wing Ignite Executive Director Neela Mollgaard said. “The flip charts were flying — a lot of talk about strategy and tactics, and a few hardcore teams just dove into the code.”

Awards presented and the respective winners include:

•Best presentation — Ann Tracey, Scott Josephson, Michelle Funk, Roger Sievers and Ross Conklin for a browser extension that strives to create better-informed citizens.

•Best concept — Bill Bushey, Nathan Witzany, David Radcliffe, Scott Adkisson and Deb Marty for an app that translates speech to text and back to speech in multiple languages.

•Best application — Scott Josephson of Sharp PLM for his PDF previewer developed as an “open source tool,” according to Mollgaard.

Glenn Ricart, founder of US Ignite, addressed attendees the opening night of Red Hot Hack, saying he was happy to be in Red Wing — one of 25 test-bed communities in the country.

US Ignite was created through the National Science Foundation and White House Office of Science and Technology in an effort to lead technological advancement in six main areas: education and workplace development, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, public safety and clean energy.

“A few years ago, the White House was looking at technology and wanted to make sure the United States continues to lead … providing new applications that you, folks, are going to help write,” he said.

Ricart outlined the current goals of US Ignite, which are to develop 60 next-generation applications, grow to 200 test bed communities by 2017 and coordinate best practices.

Red Wing Ignite was launched in August 2012, implementing these goals at the local level.

Its mission highlights the goal of best practices in helping provide the needed resources to help businesses grow and flourish. Resources include its business incubator to help early stage technology companies as well as business accelerator mentoring for entrepreneurs, developers, small businesses and other non-profit organizations, according to Red Wing Ignite’s website.

“Technology can transform businesses and industries,” Red Wing Ignite board member Mark Coronna said. “We have a great facility, collaborative team and high speed network.”

Other Red Wing Ignite board members include Scott Adkission, Margaret Anderson, Steve Betcher, Gary Evans, Keith Fossen, Jacob Good, Scott Jones, Art Kenyon, Randall Olson, Ralph Rauterkus and Bill Sweasy.

Hiawatha Broadband Communications provided the fiber-optic network for the event.


The Red Hot Hack produced five great projects among four teams, according to Red Wing Ignite Director Neela Molgaard. There are:

1. Contextador — a browser extension that strives to create better-informed citizens by providing context to news by pulling out basic info such as publisher, date and keywords, and invites experts to help provide access to “more info” by tagging high-quality articles to be added to the “basic info” based on keyword

2. PDF Previewer — an app that opens a preview of a PDF quickly. It allows users to see the contents of a PDF document without opening it. This works especially well with a gig network when the bottleneck in such a process is the time it takes a computer to open a PDF, not the time it takes to serve a document from the cloud.

3. Echogy — created an app that lets end users see upcoming events on a map, lets local businesses submit events and piggyback events (such as a special on root beer floats at the malt shop during a Little League game) and provides a way to easily develop a buzz online and off through better event promotion.

4. SuccesSage — designed a website that connects students with potential mentors and job opportunities. Students and potential mentors sign up, and students would also be able to track connections and pass them onto other students.

5. Team Babble — designed on an open source app that translates speech to text and back to speech in multiple languages.