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Tech-driven MTSU students use ‘hackathonR...

Tech-driven MTSU students use ‘hackathon’ to bolster resumes [+VIDEO]

Approaching 30, Marie McCord finds herself a nontraditional student about to graduate from MTSU in May — and mapping out the next chapters of her life.

McCord, one of 60 students participating in the seventh annual “HackMT” Jan. 28-30 in the Science Building, has spent the past three years commuting from her Antioch, Tennessee, home to Murfreesboro, where she’s a computer science major with minors in math and statistics.

MTSU senior computer science major Brice Roberts, left, of Spring Hill, Tenn., assists Stephanie Moyer of Brentwood, Tenn., as she attempts to play the virtual reality escape game "Run Time Terror" during the seventh annual HackMT hack-a-thon Sunday, Jan. 30, in the MTSU Science Building's Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. Moyer is an administrative assistant with Antage, one of the event sponsors, and a professional studies major at the university though not currently enrolled in classes. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

MTSU senior computer science major Brice Roberts, left, of Spring Hill, Tenn., assists Stephanie Moyer of Brentwood, Tenn., as she attempts to play the virtual reality escape game “Run Time Terror” during the seventh annual HackMT hackathon Sunday, Jan. 30, in the MTSU Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. Moyer is an administrative assistant with Antage, one of the event sponsors, and a professional studies major at the university. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

McCord’s lined up a summer internship with Nashville-based Asurion, a global tech services company, and plans to pursue graduate school at Virginia Tech, the University of Illinois or one of several other higher-ed opportunities she’s been offered starting in the fall.

She was one of 12 students on a team named “Dr. Phillips’ Favorites,” which created a communications tool for college students similar to Slack or Discord and was named for professor and event director Josh Phillips.

HackMT, a “hackathon” and project expo hosted annually by MTSU’s Department of Computer Science, brings software developers and visual designers together with computer science and data science students from regional universities.

Teams try to invent new web platforms, mobile apps and electronic gadgets during more than 36 intense hours. Their creations this year included a way for people to find nonprofits nationally and a method to help match people with different-sized feet with correct shoe sizes through an app.

Students, faculty, mentors, sponsors and visitors gather Sunday, Jan. 30, for the seventh annual HackMT finale event, held in the MTSU Science Building Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. About 60 students on seven teams competed in the 36-hour, in-person event to create apps and other technology-driven projects. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Students, faculty, mentors, sponsors and visitors gather Sunday, Jan. 30, for the seventh annual HackMT finale event, held in the MTSU Science Building Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. About 60 students on seven teams competed in the 36-hour, in-person event to create apps and other technology-driven projects. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Marie McCord, senior MTSU computer science major at 2022 HackMT

Marie McCord

“It was really exciting to see everyone’s work. There were a lot of cool projects this year,” McCord said, surveying the seven teams set up in the Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. “It looks like everyone finished. That’s awesome.”

Myles Chisholm, MTSU senior computer science major at 7th annual HackMT

Myles Chisholm

Teammate Myles Chisholm of Clarksville, Tennessee, a computer science major graduating in May and a 2020 HackMT alumnus, said the “networking opportunities with mentors and sponsors” from the event and club participation provide support all students. 

Both McCord and Chisholm said the support from Phillips and HackMT co-directors Sal Barbosa, an associate professor of computer science, and computer science Rafet Al Tobasei make the event a good experience.

Dr. Joshua “Josh” Phillips, assistant professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Josh Phillips

Phillips said the competing teams “survived the weekend. That shows their endurance.” He added that he’s hopeful next year’s HackMT will also be an in-person event.

Dr. Greg Van Patten, professor, Chemistry; interim dean, CBAS

Dr. Greg Van Patten

“There were some super diverse problems they were trying to solve … and (they were) able to develop finished products so quickly. And they’re learning people skills, teamwork, product management, communication, networking and more,” added interim College of Basic and Applied Sciences Dean Greg Van Patten.

Championing success

MTSU’s Data Science Club had a strong contingent. They created a way to search nonprofit organizations nationwide, earning them first-place honors from the judges.

The Data Science Program is a fast-growing, interdisciplinary program at MTSU that provides graduates with professional opportunities in a burgeoning field.

HackMT logoA team of MTSU students created “Sole Match” — a way for people with different shoe sizes to obtain the right size for each foot — and earned second-place honors. Nashville, Tennessee-based shoe manufacturer and sponsor Genesco suggested the idea.

“Our group members were not familiar with the technologies, but they dug in and figured out what they could and couldn’t do,” said Cory McDermaid, Genesco senior director for enterprise reporting, who commutes to Nashville every other month from his home outside Salt Lake City, Utah.

“This is very similar to what we do in the business environment, but you do it in 36 hours.”

Team Bee’s Knees placed third and earned the Hacker’s Choice Award. The team created a scheduling chatbot on the Discord messaging service.

Mark Lowe, 26, an MTSU data science major from Nashville, Tenn., explains his team’s technology that can be used to help people find nonprofits nationwide Sunday, Jan. 30, during the seventh annual HackMT finale event in the MTSU Science Building's Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. The MTSU Data Science Club placed first in the event. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Mark Lowe, right, 26, an MTSU data science major from Nashville, Tenn., explains his team’s technology that can be used to help people find nonprofits nationwide Sunday, Jan. 30, during the seventh annual HackMT finale event in the MTSU Science Building’s Liz and Creighton Rhea Atrium. The MTSU Data Science Club placed first in the event. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Asurion scholarship recipients

Asurion provided four $1,000 scholarships for 2022 HackMT participants. Recipients, all of whom are MTSU computer science majors, included:

• Elijah Atkins, a freshman from Dickson, Tennessee.

• Nick Hodge, a senior from Franklin, Tennessee.

• Sam Thomas, a junior from Eagleville, Tennessee.

• Stephanie Zhang, a sophomore from Hermitage, Tennessee.

Asurion, Bondware, CAT Financial and L3 Harris were the event’s primary sponsors.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

The MTSU Data Science Club earned first place at the end of the third day of the seventh annual HackMT Sunday, Jan. 30, during a short ceremony on the Science Building second-floor atrium. The team created an app to allow people to find nonprofits nationally. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

The MTSU Data Science Club poses for a group photo after earning first place for their invention at the end of the seventh annual HackMT Sunday, Jan. 30, during a short ceremony on the Science Building second-floor atrium. The team created an app to allow people to find nonprofits nationwide. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Four MTSU computer science majors are recipients of $1,000 scholarships from the Nashville-based global tech services company Asurion, presented during the university's seventh annual "HackMT" Jan. 28-30 in the Science Building. From left are Elijah Atkins, a freshman from Dickson, Tenn.; Nick Hodge, a senior from Franklin, Tenn.; Sam Thomas, a junior from Eagleville, Tenn.; and Stephanie Zhang, a sophomore from Hermitage, Tenn. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)

Four MTSU computer science majors are recipients of $1,000 scholarships from the Nashville-based global tech services company Asurion, presented during the university’s seventh annual “HackMT” Jan. 28-30 in the Science Building. From left are Elijah Atkins, a freshman from Dickson, Tenn.; Nick Hodge, a senior from Franklin, Tenn.; Sam Thomas, a junior from Eagleville, Tenn.; and Stephanie Zhang, a sophomore from Hermitage, Tenn. (MTSU photo by James Cessna)


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