(Photo by Tyler Waldman)
Morgan State University‘s HBCU Hackathon this weekend again found itself winners from well beyond the college’s walls.
The winning team at the hackathon — the third in the series at Morgan, and the fifth HBCU event overall — crowned a team of two University of Baltimore students and one Community College of Baltimore County and University of Maryland, Baltimore County, student its winners Sunday.
UB sophomore Rayne McAndrews and senior Kyle Fitsgibbons and CCBC and UMBC sophomore D’Asia Clary created Note Portal during the 24-hour hackathon. The students realized that there was no populated website for Morgan students to share and purchase class notes. The one similar site they found — Flashnotes — had notes on no Morgan class texts. In their presentation to judges, the trio showed a search for nearby Towson University that returned, among other things, answers to an exam. That struck the group as unethical, they said.
Asked how they would monetize their idea, the students said they would charge no more than $20 for notes. Flashnotes prices can be as much as four times that.
The Note Portal team took home $500 along with an opportunity to present at an upcoming Baltimore Tech Breakfast, a meeting with Hack Baltimore co-founder Sharon Paley and a public relations consultation with Daniel Waldman, president of Evolve Communications. (Waldman is of no relation to this reporter.) McAndrews said the group plans to take advantage of all the help they can get to make Note Portal a reality.
Four teams in all competed in the overnight hackathon.
- The runner-up, taking home a $250 prize, was Ed-Span, a service to network interested students with professors and professionals for mentoring or internships. The service would be offered free to students of an affiliated institution and charge unaffiliated students to participate.
- The third place winner, receiving a $100 prize, was University Roam. The app would allow students to connect in ways as simple as buying and selling used books and connecting to internships or as complex as a “Second Life”-style world modeled after the Morgan campus to help new students figure their way around.
- The fourth team’s app, Simple Life, would combine the aims of similar local interest apps (think Yelp and Foursquare with a dash of Fandango) by compiling nearby services like grocery stores and restaurants and let students ask for help. The app would also help students easily make health center appointments and alert health center staff to their symptoms.
The winners of the previous hackathon held in November 2013 were a trio of Brazilian exchange students who developed RFID Settings, a method to push settings or apps to a phone by touching it to an RFID chip.
The Community Tech Organization and Morgan’s Entrepreneurial Development & Assistance Center (EDAC) hosted the event.
Black Founders began the HBCU Hackathons, the brainchild of the San Francisco group’s cofounder Hadiyah Mujhid. Before settling at Morgan, the group sponsored hackathons at Morehouse College in Atlanta and Howard University in Washington, D.C.
“The idea was to reach out to all these HBCUs and getting them to buy into these events on campus,” Sam Henry, cofounder of Given.to, an organizer of the event. The goal was to “create this connection between students and companies that may be hiring and just get them involved in the ecosystem around that HBCU, wherever it’s located.”