Fifth College of Engineering Hackathon Inspires Innovative Solutions to Complex Corporate Challenges

By Alexander Saunders / 04/12/2021 College of Engineering, College of Science and Technology

Photo caption: A HACKNCAT competitor works on a challenge during the Spring 2019 HACKNCAT event.

EAST GREENSBORO, NC (April 12, 2021) – Not even a pandemic could hinder the talent at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University during the College of Engineering’s fifth hackathon, and second held virtually. One of the spring semester’s marquee events, HACKNCAT The Remix, boasted 22 teams consisting of over 100 competitors from the College of Engineering and College of Science and Technology, representing six undergraduate programs.

Cisco, Disney, Honeywell, NetApp and Splunk served as this year’s sponsors. The companies offered complex problem statements for the students to “hack,” supplied team members to coach, mentor the students and judge the event. Last, but not least, the sponsor companies gifted prizes to the winning teams.

“I attended former HACKNCAT events and chose to help organize this year’s competition because it was a great way to learn new skills and technologies outside of the classroom. I continue attending because it’s a great way to meet with and network with companies, make memories with my friends, and win cool prizes,” said Essence Cain, president of the N.C. A&T chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and Spring 2021 hackathon student organizer.

Winners of the hackathon were chosen within their respective categories, based on the company challenge they selected:

  • Challenge 1: Honeywell requested a web or mobile application solution teachers could use for push notification pop quizzes. The Data Pirates team won this challenge with its solution “POP.” In announcing the winners, Honeywell’s Cliff Crain noted the team scored well on creativity, functionality, and technical approach, among other factors that helped boost their scoring.
    Team members: Ashleigh Taylor, Maya Odom, Teco Bynum and Shang Andrews

  • Challenge 2: Cisco presented two problems–one was to create a service, application and algorithm to reduce PPE delivery time in a selected city. The second was to design a data-driven solution for product and service requests. Team Goodbye World won first place with its solution, “Hello ChiaMaps.” Cisco’s Jordan Maness announced the winners for this category and encouraged attendees with this thought, “Never stop discovering. For all my developers, interact with databases, interact with servers and APIs.”
    Team members: Amarcus Simms, Chiamaka NNawulezi, Khalil Ngom, Warrick Bush and Jessie Rios
  • Challenge 3: NetApp challenged hackathon competitors to design an application that would help to promote hassle-free travel when the pandemic subsides and the world returns to pre-pandemic normalcy. Team Les LeFlores, who named their team after Computer Science professor, Derrick LeFlore, won this challenge with its mobile app solution, “The Covid Tracker.” NetApp team member and Aggie alumnus Johnathan Lunsford, commented about the winning team, “We were impressed by the working demo, thinking ahead about the potential use of face identification, incorporating airlines and using QR for install.”
    Team members: Daniel Searcy, Ahmad Joyner and Jade Hinson
  • Challenge 4: Splunk asked competitors to find creative ways to leverage large datasets to gain insights into the world around us, in an effort to “bring data to everything.” Team Tigers won this challenge with its innovation, “EASE.” Splunk team members “enjoyed the working demo, the idea of helping people organize tasks and meeting the conditions and thinking about how other users could react or focus on finishing those tasks.”
    Team members: Niara Patterson, Dakota Price, and Sean Tisdale
  • Challenge 5: In Disney’s “Best Entertainment Hack,” the company requested a product that incorporated the entertainment industry, including film, TV, or theme parks. Team App Crew won this challenge with its solution, “Marvel Hero Generator.” Disney’s Neffy Sule thanked the team for its great creativity, highlighting how impressed they were the form and the use of Disney API.
    Team members: Josiah Caldwell, Nazere Wright, Maycale Radcliffe and Akinlabi Mason-Hogans

Hackathon student organizers gained valuable experience in leadership and time management while developing, promoting and navigating a complex virtual event. The event also proved valuable in connecting N.C. A&T talent to companies relevant to students’ majors and career interests.

“When I was a first-year student competing in my first hackathon, my team managed to place a winning spot. In my second hackathon, I worked with strangers from other universities for another winning spot,” said Malcom Jones, vice president of the N.C. A&T chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery and student organizer for this year’s event. These two experiences motivated him to help organize the hackathon event this semester. In his two competitions, Malcolm gained real-world experience in the computer science field by working on web apps, mobile apps, Amazon Alexis skills and AI-assisted chat boxes.

The sponsoring companies shared that the separation between winners and other competitors were by mere points for a number of the challenges, a testament to the level of innovation and talent N.C. A&T students bring to the table.

Media Contact Information: uncomm@ncat.edu

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