Fifty Regional High School, College Students Compete in First-Ever StockHack
For Immediate Release; Photos on Flickr
Galloway, N.J. – More than 50 high school and college students from the regional community this weekend competed in StockHack, Stockton University’s first 24-hour hackathon. Winners of the competition included students from Stockton University, Egg Harbor Township High School and Drexel University.
StockHack offered students challenges within three categories: innovation, design and software, allowing participants to apply their computer science skills by experimenting with interface design and software engineering.
“The university is proud of the success of our first ever StockHack event, which offered local students the opportunity to integrate STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) into one original project,” said Lynne Kesselman, Stockton’s first lady and a former computer technology teacher at Egg Harbor Township High School. “Interdisciplinary studies, creativity and collaboration are the future of computer technology education. StockHack incorporated these themes and provided a unique experience for students to carry throughout their future academic careers.”
Kesselman founded and serves as president of the Computer Science Teachers Association (CSTA) Southern New Jersey chapter, which co-sponsored StockHack, along with the Stockton Computer Society and Information Technology Services.
“StockHack had 52 competing students, with 12 teams working on original projects for the innovation challenge,” said Robert Heinrich, Chief Information Officer and Information Systems adjunct faculty. “Judges were comprised of high school teachers, Stockton faculty, staff and students, and other community members. Everyone seemed to be excited during the past 24 hours.”
Kevin Garrone, James Girard and Shawn McCall won the grand prize, 3-D printers, for their team’s innovative original project, an app called, “Safe Now.” The app allows users, if feeling unsafe in their environment, to push a button marked, “unsafe.” The app then generates and sends an emergency text message to a pre-determined list of contacts, as well as the date, time and user’s location.
Garrone, a senior, first came up with the idea at Drexel University, where he studies Software Engineering.
“The greatest satisfaction of this competition was the ability to make an idea tangible, especially in the time we did it. Winning the competition has increased my energy to complete my senior design project,” said Garrone, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J. “I’m also really happy to see a hackathon come to this area; it’s cool to see Stockton stepping up to improve the technology branch in South Jersey.”
Girard and McCall, both seniors studying Computer Science at Stockton, agreed that StockHack forced them to push their boundaries and put their skills to the test.
“You can never underestimate the competition, and there was some tough competition here,” said Girard, of Egg Harbor Township, N.J. “StockHack allowed us to apply our skills in the real world. The best part was being able to make something that can affect other peoples’ lives, all within a 24-hour window.”
“My goal was to push myself, and I definitely did,” said McCall, of Lincroft, N.J. “There were so many positive vibes around this event, and I got a lot of good input. I hope next year’s StockHack will be even bigger.”
The winning app maps each time a user selects the “unsafe” button and stores that data on a server. The group hopes to use the information in the future to create heat maps, which could be used to improve tourism and law enforcement.
The second-place prize for the innovation challenge was awarded to Stockton Computer Science seniors Jeffrey Gibson, of Forked River, N.J.; Justin Weiss, of Manahawkin, N.J.; and Stephen Grice, of Jobstown, N.J.
The team created a web app which would allow businesses to market internationally by converting Twitter posts from an input language to various output languages. Users can compose tweets in English, select output languages for conversion and translate their message into those languages while still retaining any original hashtags for tracking and monitoring purposes.
Egg Harbor Township High School students won in both the design and software challenges.
J.T. Kurtz, a senior; Akash Thaker, a junior; and Sarah Phung, a junior, won the design challenge for their mobile app called, “A to B: The Travel Tool,” a convenient, straightforward travel app to book and map public transportation services based on the user’s location.
Eddie Tran, also of Egg Harbor Township High School, won the software challenge for his work in the predefined software engineering portion of the competition.
Other participant projects included, “DJLite,” a beginner-friendly audio app, and a swim-time converting program which converts swim times from short-course yards into long-course meters.
“This event is a very valuable experience for everyone, but especially the younger students, because it provides you with real-world applications,” said Adam Swift, an educator at Egg Harbor Township High School and vice president of the CSTA Southern New Jersey chapter. “You leave here with something tangible to show a possible employer at a job interview.”
“We were all so impressed with the students’ projects,” said Demetrios Roubos, Stockton’s assistant director of Information & Security, Computer Science Information Systems (CSIS) adjunct faculty, and one of the event’s organizers.
“There are careers in technology within every field,” Roubos added. “We wanted to encourage students to explore the intersection of art and science, and the competitors ran with their own, original ideas. We at StockHack are incredibly pleased and proud to be able to provide the next generation with this hands-on experience.”
The event began Saturday afternoon with guest speakers, a scavenger hunt and significant time for collaborative and creative work. The competition ended at noon Sunday, following the presentation of team projects and awarding of prizes.
On the national level, hackathons have proliferated in the past 10 years, and some of have become a vehicle for companies and financiers to rapidly develop new software, and find new talent.
To see images and video from the StockHack event, search #StockHack on social media platforms and follow Stockton_edu on Snapchat.
The university will host another StockHack event Nov. 18-19.