MURFREESBORO, TN — Computer science and data science students at Middle Tennessee State University were not only making games and dabbling with virtual reality and artificial intelligence at this year’s HackMT event, but also networking and, hopefully, networking with potential employers.
MTSU students in 10 teams joined representatives from industry partners, as they spent 36 straight hours building applications and more during the annual HackMT and Project Expo in the MTSU Science Building on Sunday, January 29.
The marathon hackathon brings together software developers, visual designers, programmers, computer/data science students from MTSU, and professionals from local industry to form teams to innovate new web platforms, mobile apps, and electronic gadgets over the weekend.
Shortly after the award ceremony concluded, about 80 happy but very tired students left the event site in search of sleep, most of whom had spent a night or two overnight.
“I was able to share and make connections,” said Elijah Atkins, 19, a sophomore. Computer science Pioneer from Dixon, Tennessee, participated for the second year in a row. “Here I am, I have a new colleague (Blake Stanley, a senior and part-time MTSU student who just became a Project Analyst with Ingram Content Group in La Vergne, Tennessee).”
Atkins and Stanley were part of the 12-member team called WHaSUP, and were placed second overall by the judges. Atkins was later awarded a second MTSU Foundation HackMT Scholarship for the Department of Computer Science.
“It’s great to get it,” Atkins said of the scholarship. “It means that I am visually able to see progress as a computer science student and that I am able to help other students.”
Josh Phillips, associate professor of computer science and director of HackMT, said that they “were ahead in terms of the number of participants and industry partners. All 10 teams stuck around and everyone worked hard.”
One team included 18 Data science Students from the Data Science Club.
An app to renovate KOM One team, called KOM-fused, has developed an app called .KOM to create a virtual way to renovate Kirksey Old Main, one of the original four buildings on campus in 1911 and home to computer science and mathematical sciences.
“You play a game, you get tokens and you make money from it to replenish KOM,” said Senior Computer Science Lorna Hedges. “You renovate walls, floors, desks, and materials one by one. It was a very steep learning curve. … It was successful and it was rewarding.”
One man show Computer science senior Wesley Mitchell, 21, of Franklin, Tennessee, has created a graphical programming tool for building neural networks using artificial intelligence.
He created his own because “I didn’t know much about (AI) technology and I didn’t want to reach out to a bunch of people and tell them, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.'”
Mitchell’s individual efforts were rewarded when he and Ian Tatum were awarded $2,500 Asurion HackMT Scholarships. Mitchell plans to use the grant to attend classes this summer and his project is “something I’d like to continue working on and improving.”
2023 HackMT Awards
- 1st place – Team 7 (Team name 777), including Maryam Abbas, Colin Kinslow, Anthony Percyan Tatum, Samuel Thomas and Stephanie Zhang.
- 2nd Place – Team 2 (Team Name WHaSUP), including Elijah Atkins, Kwabena Fusuhin, Audra Hensley, Andrew Leverett, Philip Lumpkin, Elena Malviva, Corey McMermaid, Rosalinda Powell, Justin Rediver, Blake Stanley, Zack Turner, Ajay Vachist .
- 3rd place – Team 9 (Team name RLRACERS), including Zeta Ajoku, Carlos Aldana, Joshua Cox, Kendra Givens, Jack Goble, Naomi Igbenovia, Alex Larabel, David Ludwig, Christian Mertz, Grace Mitri and Rahma Syed.
- Pirates’ Choice Award – Team 1 (Team Name No API Available), including Mitchell DeWitt, Mark Eskander, Uriel Esquivel, Zaria Ghafoor, Mateo Lopez Moncagliano, Adel Mahfouz, and Matthew Radice.
- HackMT Scholarship/MTSU Computer Science Department Foundation – Elijah Atkins.
- Asurion HackMT Scholarship 2023 – Wesley Mitchell, Ian Tatum.
Industry Partners – Philips and Paul Widra, Director of Development Initiatives at MTSU, annually receive strong support from a number of industry partners, led by Asurion and Amazon. Other featured sponsors include Bondware, CAT Financial, Production, Genesco, CGI, L3Harris, and TVA.