Through collaboration with the local training software company RVIBE, LiveLehigh’s Coding the Future house community hosted its first ever on-campus hackathon on Saturday at Sayre Park Lodge.
Individual and group teams of approximately 12 Lehigh students participated in an eight-hour coding session in order to better develop an innovative and consumer-friendly mobile app prototype.
Jon Merwine, a first-year graduate student and founder of Coding the Future, founded this LiveLehigh house community last semester in hopes of establishing a strong coding presence on Lehigh’s campus.
“The theme of the house is to put people who are passionate about computer science together by learning more outside the classroom in order to expand our breadth and depth of knowledge in the field,” he said.
The technology needs of the students in Coding the Future are met with various work stations set up throughout the house.
“When you walk into the living room, it definitely looks like a coding house,” Merwine said. “We set up workshops where we can learn the skillsets of the residents in order to adjust to the diversity. I really try to be a resource for the residents for whatever they need, as well.”
After becoming close with the family of Braydon Johnson-McCormick, co-founder and CEO of RVIBE, Merwine was able to plan Saturday’s Hackathon. Johnson-McCormick explained that RVIBE sponsored and helped plan the event in hopes of not only introducing Lehigh students to the local coding community but to also better the on-campus faculty and residents’ bond.
He also stressed the importance of the conceptual work put into these types of developmental hackathons.
“You can’t just look at the nuts and bolts of an app,” he said. “The conceptual side matters just as much because you have to make it user-friendly. That’s what we’re looking for: innovative ideas.”
Merwine explained the importance of innovation, as well.
“The idea component is definitely number one,” he said. “The success of a hackathon is not just putting code down on a sheet, it’s about developing and conveying ideas in a way that could create something really special. That’s how you win a hackathon.”
Years of community service at the Bethlehem Area Public Library and individual hackathon participation at companies such as Goldman Sachs all led up to Saturday’s event. After each of the four teams described their innovation and presented their prototype, the judges awarded first place to Adam Knuckey, ’18, Akhil Patil, ’18, and Deep Sheth, ’18, where prizes included internship interviews and tech products.
“Based on the features and polish of their fully-functioning system, we found that the conceptual user experience was really great,” Johnson-McCormick said of the winning team.
In the upcoming weeks, the Coding the Future LiveLehigh community house will be working on a house project where residents will build their own super computer using CPU parts from Oracle. Merwine also expressed interest in future hackathons.
“We’d like to do another one in the fall and the spring,” he said. “We will be doing a lot more planning in the summer because I know that a lot of companies have strong interests in hackathons. We’ll definitely be looking to take advantage of those opportunities in the future.”
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