Creating a solution: SCSU students take home first place at Iowa hackathon

A few weeks ago, St. Cloud State’s Computer Science Club traveled down to the University of Iowa to compete in the Midwest Big Data Hackathon on October 6th and 7th. In a Hackathon students compete by working together, brainstorming an idea, and then creating it. For the Computer Science Club, it took 36 hours to make their vision a reality. Over 150 students participated in the competition.

SCSU students produced two apps at this Hackathon. Both apps received awards. One being “Let’s Vote”, which won the title of best marketing potential app by Iowa John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC) and the other “EZ-claim”, which won in the grand prize category.

Kushal Singh (computer science) and Sagar Bhandari (information systems) created “Let’s Vote”. The purpose of the app is to “allow students in college and universities to vote for their representative using their student [ID] card through their cell phone,” according to Sagar Bhandari.

These students created this app “EZ-claim” as a response to the apartment fire that took place near our campus a few weeks ago. Residents lost many belongings including clothing, books, electronics, and other assets which are hard to claim with insurance. Bhandari explains, “this app allows you to have an audit of your valuables as well as a chatbot that helps create claim tickets for you when you need to process a claim.” Ashish Jayan (software engineering), Subi Dangol (computer science), Oloyo Kidega (software engineering), and Ivy Seo (computer science) worked together to create “EZ-claim”.

The Computer Science Club is an opportunity for students to connect with other students at St. Cloud State and professionals in the workforce who share the same passion and skills in computer science. Not all members are computer science majors; the club is open to anyone who has an interest in computing.

Using apps is a part of our daily lives; however, programming them takes a little more skill than just hitting post. “I always like to solve problems may [they] be small or big through the apps I create,” begins Bhandari, “The app we designed was based on the problem of students at colleges or universities face during the voting process . . . this app allows students to vote for their international election [using] their student ID,” said Bhandari.

Many SCSU students can simply go to the voting boxes, or vote through mail; however, for international students, being civilly engaged is more difficult. Bhandari and Singh may just have created a solution that could help all international students around the world.

If you are interested in getting involved, Bhandari says, “Please do. Opportunities are always there to be grabbed . . . Don’t wait for the best time, every time is the best if you go for it . . . There is a popular saying in my home country, the best time to do something was a year before, but the second best time is today. GET STARTED”. That advice applies to us all, if you haven’t got started yet, start now. You might just a create a solution that can change the world.

To find out more about the competition check out the University of Iowa’s website.

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Anna Panek

Anna is a junior at St. Cloud State University and is double majoring in Math Education and Spanish Education, with a minor in Special Education. She is the Managing Editor for the University Chronicle this year. When she is not at campus attending class, working as a learning assistant or math tutor, or writing for the University Chronicle, she enjoys volunteering, reading, being overly competitive at board games, and telling horribly funny puns.

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