CS Majors Win Second Place at Emory Hackathon

Posted On February 15, 2015
Categories Student News

A team of four Georgia State undergraduate computer science majors won second place at the Emory Hackathon held during the weekend of April 12–13, 2014, on the Emory University campus. The members of the team were Gene Chorba, Trevor Goodyear, Gabriel Siewe, and William Wood. At the time of the event, Goodyear was a senior, Chorba was a junior, and the other members were sophomores. Over 200 people participated in the hackathon, which started at 10 a.m. on April 12 and continued all night, ending at 5 p.m. the following day. The event was free and open to all college students, with some high school students also attending. Participants came from five states, and many local universities were represented. During the hackathon, teams of up to four people competed to produce a clever and useful app. At the end of the event, each team was given three minutes to demonstrate its app for the judges. Prizes were awarded at the closing ceremony, which featured talks from Protip Biswas, executive director of the Regional Commission on Homelessness at the United Way of Metropolitan AtlantaDevin Rader, developer evangelist at Twilio; and Brian Easter, CEO of Nebo Agency. The event was co-hosted by Microsoft, which provided over $5,000 in prizes. The GSU team created a multi-platform web app named Shelter that allows homeless shelters to maintain databases of the homeless and to send and receive text messages to tell if beds are available at specific locations. The app also provides a portal that lets volunteers track their hours spent volunteering and allows employers to register. Prizes were awarded to the top three finishers, along with five other awards in specialized categories. The GSU team won three awards at the hackathon:

  • Second Place Overall. The team received a $400 cash prize, $200 in Uber credits, and one-year passes for Wolfram|Alpha Pro and Mathematica.
  • United Way of Atlanta Hack for Homeless Challenge, given for the best hack to address an issue of the homelessness situation and/or an issue facing organizations for the homeless. The team received a $500 cash prize.
  • Twilio API Prize, given for the hack that made the best use of the Twilio API. Each member of the team was given a SparkFunArduino kit valued at $100.

No other team won more than a single award, although teams from Georgia Tech won first place and third place. Three members of the GSU team (Chorba, Siewe, and Wood) met while taking CSc 4370 (Web Programming) when it was taught by Dr. Erin-Elizabeth Durham, a recent Ph.D. graduate. The three encountered Trevor Goodyear at the hackathon and invited him to join them. Several team members were interviewed in a story that Emory University’s student newspaper published about the event.