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The student chapter of Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) club at USI hosted the first Hackathon on March 16, 2019, at USI’s Griffin Center. There were more than 30 attendees, including students, faculty, and industry professionals from regional companies. Project sponsors included Mr. Joab Schultheis from Atlas World Group and chair-elect of Romain College’s IT Alliance, Ms. Jean Reising with MetroNet, and Mr. Jake Rumsey from OFS.

These IT professionals provided challenging software development projects for the teams, as well as mentored the students. The student teams created workable programming solutions for the organizations. Each team presented their ideas and final solutions to a panel of judges, comprised of USI computer science faculty members Mr. Scott Anderson, Dr. Bruce Mabis, and Dr. Gongjun Yan. The Atlas Work Group project was awarded the best project solution.

Students not only used their computing and programming skills, but enjoyed the networking opportunity. “The Hackathon was a great opportunity for me to use what I have learned so far and apply it to a real-world business scenario,” said junior David Atkinson, a computer science major. “My team and I were able to work with an industry professional and use our different skill sets to collaborate on a project that will be used by the company.”

The day-long collaborative coding marathon event was organized by the ACM club’s faculty advisor, Dr. Srishti Srivastava, assistant professor of computer science, and computer science students, Donovon Simpson, Matthew Van Hoose, Joe Howland, Jacob Steele, and Sutton Biddle. The event was sponsored by the Romain College of Business, and was approved by Dr. Abbas Foroughi, chair of Management and Information Sciences, and Dr. Brian McGuire, interim dean. Dr. Foroughi remarked, “The Hackathon was a great success. This experience gave students an opportunity to have fun while building confidence, as well as skill in coding, problem-solving, collaboration, and presentation. The 12-hour time frame of the Hackathon mirrored the type of time-crunches and deadlines which students will often encounter as IT professionals. The participation of students, faculty, and community professionals brought different perspectives to this unique activity, and students benefited from this opportunity to work with local IT professionals.”

The students found the Hackathon a good learning event, and considered it very innovative, hands-on, and collaborative. Junior Joseph Klein, a computer science major, said he “learned new ways of combining tools and skills. Working with experienced professionals helped me gain a new perspective.”

Seeing the success of the inaugural event, Dr. Srivastava, her team of students, and the ACM student chapter have decided to continue hosting the Hackathon as an annual event at USI. “I had an amazing time networking with different companies that attended the event, having the opportunity to showcase my hard skills and soft skills, and learning new skills from my teammates. I am looking forward to the second annual Hackathon at USI! Thank you for organizing this year’s Hackathon!” commented Jean Marie Uwimana, who is majoring in computer science, mathematics, and economics.

**See also First Annual Hackathon Facebook Album

Published March 29, 2019