The University of Mary Washington’s longstanding Devil-Goat rivalry extended to a recent hack-a-thon. UMW students broke into two groups – Devils and Goats – at the HackU 5 competition in Norfolk, Virginia.
The fifth annual sprint-like event, hosted by Norfolk-based media and information services company Dominion Enterprises, pitted 12 teams of Virginia college students against each other in a quest to create programming solutions such as mobile apps and websites that address the challenges of university living.
UMW students competed against groups from Old Dominion and Norfolk State universities, the College of William and Mary, the University of Richmond and Tidewater Community College for a $10,000 grand prize. The Devils and Goats didn’t snag the cash, but they did bring some impressive software – and prizes – back home to Fredericksburg.
The Devils – Chad Baxter, Diego Bustamante, Collin Mistr and Justin Rivera – scored RevConf tickets to the 2017 software development conference in June for their win in the Best Solution to a Challenge category. The team created the Spacebar app, a copy detection tool that adds hidden text to a page to prevent code duplication.
The Goats – Mikaela Goldrich, Josh Mwandu, Anum Qureshi, Hunter Renard and Zachary Zwierko – took home Amazon Echo Dots for their win in the Best Open Source Project for their “Yelp! Take Me There Challenge,” an app that helps college students decide where to live.
“UMW students benefit from external events like this hack-a-thon because the challenge is open-ended,” said Assistant Professor of Computer Science Jessica Zeitz Self. “These open-ended challenges allow students to be creative and solve real-world problems.”
UMW was invited to HackU 5 by Chris Halbert ’06, a UMW alumnus and senior web engineer at Dominion Enterprises. All nine students are part of the Mary Washington chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery, which hosted its own hack-a-thon in the Hurley Convergence Center in December, drawing participation from 65 students.
“It is a very different experience from the classroom,” Self said. “Our students found the hack-a-thon challenging, new and different, but also quite rewarding.”