Second Hackathon Brings Service to the Forefront

a diverse group of students holding their technology prizes

Last January, the Rhodes College hosted its first hackathon, an innovation competition focused on tech and design. Called RhodesHacks 0, the added a liberal arts flair to the traditional technology by including a service category. In late September, the hosted RhodesHacks 1, and raised the bar to make service an even more prominent aspect of the competition.

Two non-profit organizations in Memphis, Teach901 and Memphis Athletic Ministries (MAM), presented their tech problems for the students to solve. MAM fosters a variety of youth programs dedicated to providing underprivileged children with safe environments to grow in body and mind. Teach901 offers an easy way to get connected with the education system in Memphis, whether it’s an administrative job, a teaching job, or a board position. Both organizations need an easier way to process and organize incoming data and applications, so that less time is spent behind a computer and more time with Memphians.

For the first time, Rhodes invited colleges and universities from throughout Memphis to participate in the event. Students from the University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University (CBU), and LeMoyne-Owen College competed alongside and with Rhodes students. An ambitious student from White Station High School also attended the event, intending to observe, only to end up joining a team.

The students worked and coded for an exhausting 20 hours before presenting their projects to the judges. Despite having been awake for 30 or more hours, they eagerly presented their solutions. The overall winners were a group consisting of two University of Memphis students, one Rhodes student, and the White Station student. They called themselves the Hack Street Boys, a name one of the judges suggested. The Hack Street Boys also took home the title for Best Tech. A group of CBU students were awarded Best Problem-Solving, and a group of LeMoyne-Owens students won the award for Best Design.

By Swaneet Mand ’18