MTSU Students Create, Network to Pad Résumés During 2023 HackMT
Middle Tennessee State University Computer Science and Data Science students were not only creating games and dabbling with virtual reality and artificial intelligence at this year’s HackMT event, but also networking and establishing relationships with, hopefully, potential employers.
Joined by representatives from industry partners, MTSU students on 10 teams spent 36 nonstop hours creating apps and more during the annual HackMT and project expo in the MTSU Science Building Sunday, Jan. 29.
The marathon hackathon gathers software developers, visual designers, programmers and computer/data science students from MTSU and professionals from local industry to form teams to invent new web platforms, mobile apps and electronic gadgets during the weekend.
Shortly after the awards ceremony wrapped up the event, about 80 happy but extremely tired students left the event site in search of sleep, as most pulled one or two all-nighters.
“I’ve been able to participate and make connections,” said Elijah Atkins, 19, a sophomore computer science major from Dickson, Tennessee, involved for the second consecutive year. “From this, I have a new colleague (Blake Stanley, a senior and part-time MTSU student who has just become a project analyst with Ingram Content Group in La Vergne, Tennessee).”
Atkins and Stanley were part of the 12-member team named WHaSUP, voted second overall by the judges. Atkins later received the second MTSU Computer Science Department Foundation HackMT Scholarship.
“It’s cool that I got it,” Atkins said of the scholarship. “It means I’m visually able to see progress as a computer science student and am able to help other students.”
Josh Phillips, computer science associate professor and HackMT director, said they were “up in the number of participants and industry partners. All 10 teams stuck it out and everybody worked hard.”
One team included 18 data science students from the Data Science Club.
An app to renovate KOM
One team, named KOM-fused, developed an app called .KOM — creating a hypothetical way to renovate Kirksey Old Main, one of the four original buildings on campus in 1911 and home to computer science and Mathematical Sciences.
“You play a game, get tokens and cash them in to renovate KOM,” said senior computer science major Lorna Hedges. “You renovate the walls, floors, desks and materials one at a time. It has been a very steep learning curve. … It was successful and has been rewarding.”
One man show
Senior computer science major Wesley Mitchell, 21, of Franklin, Tennessee, created a graphical programming tool to build neural networks with artificial intelligence.
He created by himself because “I didn’t know a lot about the (AI) technology and I didn’t want to get with a bunch of people and tell them, ‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’”
Mitchell’s solo efforts were rewarded when he and Ian Tatum received $2,500 Asurion HackMT Scholarships. Mitchell plans to use the scholarship to attend classes this summer and his project “is something I want to keep working on and make better.”
2023 HackMT awards
- First place — Team 7 (team name 777), including Marim Abbas, Collin Kinslow, Anthony Pierce Ian Tatum, Samuel Thomas and Stephanie Zhang.
- Second place — Team 2 (team name WHaSUP), including Elijah Atkins, Kwabena Fosuhene, Audra Hensley, Andrew Leverette, Phillippe Lumpkin, Elena Malafeeva, Cory McDermaid, Rosalinda Powell, Justin Redifer, Blake Stanley, Zach Turner and Ajay Vashist.
- Third place — Team 9 (team name RLRACERS), including Zita Ajoku, Carlos Aldana, Joshua Cox, Kendra Givens, Jack Goble, Naomi Igbinovia, Alex Larable, David Ludwig, Christian Mertz, Grace Metri and Rahma Seid.
- Hackers’ Choice Award — Team 1 (team name No API available), including Mitchell Dwitt, Mark Eskander, Uriel Esquivel, Zarya Ghafour, Mateo Lopez Moncaleano, Adel Mahfooz and Matthew Radice.
- HackMT Scholarship/MTSU Computer Science Department Foundation — Elijah Atkins.
- Asurion HackMT 2023 Scholarship — Wesley Mitchell and Ian Tatum.
Phillips and Paul Wydra, MTSU director of development initiatives, annually receive solid support from a number of industry partners, led by Asurion and Amazon. Other featured sponsors included Bondware, CAT Financial, Antage, Genesco, CGI, L3Harris and TVA.