“Hackathon” showcases technologically gifted students

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Truman State students competed against one another in the University’s first ever Hackathon, March 19-20 in Barnett Hall.

The competition had teams of three to four students construct practical software programs to be judged by representatives of companies, such as MasterCard.

The team who took home first place in the digital app category developed a mobile app called Fetch. The team, comprised of students from the U.S., the Bahamas, Uzbekistan and Vietnam, developed the prototype to make the search for books, media and other reference materials in a library easier. Users could scan the bar code in a book or other form of media, then the app would direct the user to the exact spot in the building where the item was.

“We all had the same basic idea — how do we find something?” sophomore member Juliette Miller says. “Technology is supposed to make your life easier, and when you’re at the library, you spend so much time hunting for things. You get the call number, but that’s just the beginning of the quest.”

The team hopes to expand upon the concept of Fetch in the near future to accommodate other possible features for the application.

“[The judges said] the concept was good, but we have to remember to stick to our aspect of location of static objects, not item management,” Miller says. “We’re thinking of doing it as a research project and taking it to completion, which we know Truman students will like.”

The team behind Fetch competed against six other teams during the two-day event and presented their final project before a panel of judges and members of Truman’s computer science and math departments, including Jon Beck, computer science department chair.

Drake Gens, one of the Hackathon’s two coordinators, says he was pleased with the event’s high turnout and hopes the computer science department will hold similar events in the future.

“We hope to continue and make the Hackathon an annual thing,” Gens says. “The coding competition which we had last fall will happen again next semester.”

The competition saw the students tapping into their networking and presentation skills, both of which are considered highly valuable if any of the competing teams wished to pursue a career in this field. Students were given permission to meet and submit resumes to the judges for possible internships or jobs after they graduate.

The team behind the Dobson Monitor — a computer and mobile application meant to identify available parking spaces outside Dobson Hall — took first place in web application, and Fetch took first place in mobile application. Competing teams won several prizes including several books for coding and application design, a Chromecast, a portable speaker, a dry-erase board and coffee.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_X9ao1BwZk”][/vc_column][/vc_row]