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Coding for the community: Azalea Health Hackathon a success

A success with community solutions, the sixth annual Hackathon went according to plan.

The Hackathon, held Feb. 9, saw 10 teams, the largest participating number the event has had so far, duke it out by coding the best solution to a problem. This year’s issue, “Coding for the Community,” asked for ways to unite the community.

The teams, cloistered in their assigned rooms, went about considering an option. Within minutes, talented fingers fueled by Monster energy drinks began clacking away diligently at keyboards and drawing up a solution to unite the Greater Valdosta community.

For the uninitiated, the Hackathon is an annual software design competition sponsored by VSU-alumni-founded healthcare startup Azalea Health. Teams are presented with a problem, mostly relating to Valdosta or the surrounding area, and are given eight hours to engineer a solution.

Eight hours later, after the dust had settled, participants worked out the last lingering bugs in their creations and reconvened for judgement.

More than 50 participants, judges, faculty and professional coders congregated in Martin Hall for the presentations.

Aspiring programmers unveiled the fruits of eight hours’ worth of labor to a panel of judges, who assigned their creation a score based on five criteria: design, functionality, originality, awesomeness and presentation.

The competing teams were then ranked and assigned a score. The top three teams receive a prize, and, according to Hackathon director Dan Henry, “bragging rights for life.”

Of the top three teams, only one walks away with the grand prize of $1,000. This year, “The 404s” took the honor.

“The 404s,” an oft-cited and satirized error message, consisted of Bryan McRee, Landon Courson, Jenna Schott and Erskine Denson. As for their win, the team took the road less taken, opting to focus on a more personal service rather than large-scale volunteer and community ideas.

McRee said their solution was like a dating service for the community’s needs.

“The system will find a need, find a skillset—kind of like eHarmony—and match the need with the skillset,” he said.

McRee argues that this way, changes can be more tangible at a base and individual level.

Second place, a $500 prize, went to “The Acquaintances,” which included Mars Elliot Hallman, Allen Kubinski and Grant McCarthy.

Their instrument of success was “Voluntell,” an application used to connect those interested in community service with organizations.

The third-place prize of $250 was snagged by “Node_modules”, an army of one led by Tyler Angelier.

The prospective programmer cranked out a software focused on mobility and capturing a target audience.

His lone wolf approach assured that he walked away a happy man, and the smile on his face said it all since he ended with as much money in his pocket as the four first-place team members came out with.

While the money may be a bonus, each of these participants can rest assured that they not only have “bragging rights for life” but also the talent for building the software of the future.

Written by Patrick Barry, Staff Writer.

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