Hackberry Goes Long
John Catton, Campus Carrier Features Editor
Leo Narrison, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor
It’s late Friday night in the Hackberry lab. Students powered by Sprite and pizza, seek to find creative solutions to common problems facing the Rome community.
The event is Berry College’s latest Hackathon, but with a twist: it lasts 24 hours, the first in school history.
“Berry has done 4- hour Hackathons in the past, but never one this long before,” Zane Cochran, Instructor of Creative Technology said, “Seeing how far our students can take an idea in 24 hours is really encouraging.”
The event was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Augusta University, and with local partners in Rome through Makervillage Inc.
The purpose of the Hackathons is to allow students to find creative solutions to local challenges such as water use, car sharing, and making exercise fun.
These categories were generated after local leaders used public health records to find challenges facing the Rome community.
“Physical environment and physical inactivity are Rome’s biggest challenges,” Tricia Steele, president and co founder of Makervillage INC, said. “We are very good at clinical care, but physical activity is the number one driver of public health.
Berry was chosen as the Hackathon venue because the Hackberry lab is an adequate space with plenty of resources for the event with many interested students.
Winners included junior creative tech major Graham Widmann and senior creative tech major, Jerome Payne.
Widmann’s idea to combat local inactivity was to make physical activity more fun, by combining video games and biking. He accomplished this by making any type of bike a video game controller. He hopes to expand on his innovative idea in the future.
Payne generated an idea for an app that would make car- sharing easier. His solution included matching people going the same direction. He believes his greatest challenge was coding the information in the 24 hours.
Despite the difficulties, the students preserved and presented their solutions to a panel of local community members on Saturday. Cochran was impressed by with the results, and plans on creating more 24-hour Hackathons in the future.
“I was very impressed by how our students created meaningful and creative solutions to our local problems with a real impact,” Cochran said.
The winners of the Hackathon won cash prizes of $500 each and entrance to the state Hackathon later this year.
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