Students help the community out by doing Hackathons

by Apr 28, 2013 8:32 pm Tags: , , , ,

Senoir business managment information systems major Lindsay Sierra talks with a teammate during the hackathon at Cisco Systems on Friday, April 26th. Zach Toberman / Spartan Daily

Senoir business managment information systems major Lindsay Sierra talks with a teammate during the hackathon at Cisco Systems on Friday, April 26th. Zach Toberman / Spartan Daily

Hackathon, presented by the National Human Services Data Consortium, was an event established for students to use social innovation to help stop homelessness with a mobile application.

Each SJSU team was mentored by a Cisco Systems engineer who assisted them in developing the app and coming up with ideas.

Bobbi Makani-Lim, a business professor said that this was the first hackathon for SJSU and they partnered with a group called Community Technology Alliance.

Makani-Lim stated in an email, “As the director of Silicon Valley Social Innovation Leadership Network at the SJSU, I initiated a partnership with CTA for our students to join the hackathon."

Community Technology Alliance is a non-profit organization with the mission of providing critical technology and services to aid in preventing and ending homelessness and poverty, according to Jenn Padgett, the executive director of Community Technology Alliance.

“We have been likened to the 'technological backbone' for non-profits working to end homelessness and poverty,” she stated. “We help communities implement tools to collect and understand data so that they can make data-driven decisions to inform their practices."

There were 12 students who went to this event past Thursday, according to Makani-Lim.

"Students are coming from several colleges and majors. These include, but are not limited to business, information systems and technology, computer science and engineering," she stated. "Since this is a pilot project, there are only a few number of spots available for students. We would like to test out the model first, just to see where the cards fall."

Padgett said they hoped to develop a relationship with SJSU through the hackathon.

“We plan to strengthen our relationship through this and hopefully through other events and hackathon's in the future,” Padgett stated in email. “I was recently a speaker at the Social Innovation Leadership Forum led by SJSU Communiversity along with Cisco."

Padgett also stated that the hackathon would not be at SJSU, but it would be in the Cisco office.

“It will be at our offices and Cisco offices – where people will participate virtually,” she stated. “ The hackathon will take place in Seattle during the National Human Services Data Consortium conference.”

Lindsay Sierra, a senior business management information systems major said that participants in events like the hackathon can aid their local communities, whilst expanding their knowledge in information technology.

“Mobile is our generation's movement so being able to create a mobile application is a valuable lesson for students,” she stated in an email. “Hackathons are also very popular within the Silicon Valley so participating in one gives students early exposure.”

Sierra stated that it is not everyday that students have the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals and receive personal attention and gain such an intimate learning experiences.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for myself as well as other students to put our technical and analytical skills to the test,” Sierra stated. “Creating an application to advocate for the homeless is an outstanding use of social innovation and I am extremely proud to be a participant in this event.”

Sierra further stated that she thinks "about having Cisco Engineers as mentors. It would make an interesting twist to the event." She also mentioned that she has "always been hesitant to enter a hackathon because I have the ability to code. However, I'm not really a 'coder'. Knowing that an expert will be there to help me and my teammates is very relieving."

“I think that we will all work more confidently knowing that we can ask for assistance if needed,” she said. “Lastly, knowing that this application will be used to help people is an extremely motivating factor and I would be honored to participate in more hackathons that focus on helping humanity.”


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