Marquette Wire

Second-annual Hackathon draws 100 students to engineer solutions

Hackathon+contestants.+Photo+by+Ben+Erickson+%2Fbenjamin.erickson%40mu.edu
Hackathon contestants. Photo by Ben Erickson /benjamin.erickson@mu.edu

Hackathon contestants. Photo by Ben Erickson /benjamin.erickson@mu.edu

Hackathon contestants. Photo by Ben Erickson /benjamin.erickson@mu.edu

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On the morning of Marquette’s second annual Hackathon, the fourth floor of Engineering Hall was packed with students and faculty for the student design competition where real-life problems are solved with engineering.

“One thing I immediately noticed is how much energy is in the room,” University President Michael Lovell said to the crowd before the event started.

Hackathon is a partnership between the College of Engineering and Direct Supply. The event had 100 participants, about the same amount as last year. According to Laura Lindemann, the university’s director of industry relations, there were many new faces in the crowd.

Hackathon contestants. Photo by Ben Erickson /benjamin.erickson@mu.edu

Annie Williams, a sophomore in the College of Engineering, was a first time Hackathon participant.

“Up until now it’s been more theoretical with classes and everything as we’re just starting to take actual engineering courses,” Williams said. “It’s kind of cool to apply what we’ve already learned and see what else is out there.”

Grouped into teams, students compete for a little under 12 hours, working to create a final presentation by the end of the night. Though hosted by the College of Engineering, students were allowed to bring friends from other colleges to participate. According to Lindemann, a few students from the Colleges of Business Administration and Arts & Sciences were signed up to compete.

“It’s a good opportunity to get to know the company and see what it would be like to completely design something and be given a prompt,” said Rayann Jaber, a sophomore in the College of Engineering. “I kind of like challenges like that, so I decided to give it a try.”

 

The event began at Marquette after Lindemann was asked to host a Hackathon about three years ago.

“Hackathon is traditionally a software name, but for the students that we have here at Marquette, it needed to be a little different to include more of our disciplines,” Lindemann said. “We chose to make hacking a solution to a problem.”

The competition was sponsored by Direct Supply, a Milwaukee company that provides products for and solutions to senior citizen living conditions. The company has a long history with Marquette, a connection that dates back to almost 30 years ago when Direct Supply was first started.

In its early days, Direct Supply reached out to Marquette professors to recruit students for jobs and internships. To this day, Direct Supply has had hundreds of student interns and employees from Marquette and has been involved with campus organizations and events.

For Bob Hillis, CEO of Direct Supply, Hackathon is an outlet for students to engage in the process of invention and innovation.

“The most important thing I think is trying to contribute to awaken the students to entrepreneurialism,” Hillis said. “To try to get them to see things that are not there now, but could be there and really getting them to think about innovation, entrepreneurialism and hopefully to get them to pursue their dreams.”

30 employees from Direct Supply were at the event to assist students in their work.

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