Cyber Students Put to the Test at Code-A-Thon Event
Matthew Mosier admits he was nervous when his computer science professor persuaded him to participate in the first annual Code-A-Thon, hosted by Howard Community College (HCC) with NewWave Telecon and Technologies, Inc. in mid-March.
“It’s my first year at HCC and I didn’t know if I’d be any good at it,” he said. “But Professor Paul Hogan put me in charge of my group, and I’m so glad he did.”
Mosier was among 22 students to participate in the college’s first ever Code-A-Thon and the winner of the top prize of the competition – a summer internship with NewWave. The daylong event, sponsored by the NewWave Foundation, united students for a day of technology-based problem solving with the task of building a solution using cognitive services that solves a problem in the healthcare field.
The students were split into five teams and had to tackle one of two ideas. The first idea was a gesture recognition app designed to solve communication issues associated with neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease.
The winning team, which included Mosier, Jinseo Park, and Nhu Tran, built a solution by using the integrated webcam on a laptop and sending a timed series of pictures to the Application Programming Interface (API), said Dr. Patrick Valdivia, interim assistant project manager at HCC.
The second place team worked on a program that extracted text from an insurance card using an Optical Character Recognition API.
“The apps were judged based on the completeness of the implementation, the quality of ideas used, teamwork, and a presentation, which included a working demo of their app,” Valdivia said. “What stood out among the winners were their teams provided well-thought-out, complete solutions within the one-day timeframe allocated. They also distributed work well amongst their team members.”
Judges for the event included HCC’s Valdivia, Hogan, and Rose Volynskiy, chair of technology. NewWave CEO Patrick Munis, Vignesh Rajan, director of Microsoft services, and Donghwa Kim, director of application engineering and IT solutions – both also from NewWave – also took part in judging.
Sherifah Munis, founder and executive director of NewWave, said it was rewarding to see students come to the event and realize how fascinating this line of work can be, and how it really does solve real world problems.
“It’s exactly why NewWave is making these investments,” Munis said. “These are our future leaders. We want to be a part of their journey and success.”
For Park, the Code-A-Thon was the perfect event to take part in while studying at HCC – and winning first place was icing on the cake, with each member awarded a $200 gift card. Second place winners received $50 gift cards and swag bag.
“But the most impressive part was that we had a chance to talk with the real world workers,” Park said. “Talking with them, I realized where I am currently, such as how much they know and how much I still need to learn. Thanks to this experience, I will improve on myself because now I know where I’m supposed to go.”
Mosier could hardly put into words how much fun he had at the Code-A-Thon.
“It was really well run, and really fun,” he said. “It was very intense and stressful right down to the wire. We finished up with 30 seconds to spare out of six hours. It was a really tight competition, everyone was really pushing themselves, and I have to say it was probably the most fun I’ve had in college so far.”