The programs are down, and the party is over, but the work that the hackathon participants put in has only just begun. Code Platoon hosted its first-ever hackathon on the weekend of Oct. 16-18, six dedicated teams of programmers came together to compete for and help our friends at Illinois Joining Forces (IJF). This nonprofit organization helps Veterans and their families navigate the over 5000 military-specific nonprofits within the state of Illinois.
The six teams that took part in the competition were all driven by one mission prompted by IJF. To create a more efficient way to gather resource provider data and distribute that information to Illinois state Veterans through an app that is accurate, timely, and efficient in referrals to the appropriate resource provider. The team projects were judged by a panel of industry experts including Guy Turner, Co-Founder of Hyde Park Venture Partners, Chris Sienkiewicz, Director UX, Creative & FED at Grainger, Caitlin Gardner who is the Vice President of JP Morgan Chase’s Intellectual Property of Global Technology Strategy, Innovation & Partnerships, Rene Duquesnoy of DRW who has over 20 years of programming experience, Fred Lee, CTO of Cars.com, Mike Ferrari of Motorola Solutions who is a cybersecurity specialist and Jim Dugan, CEO and Managing Partner at OCA Ventures.
Equipped with a wishlist from IJF and less than three days to design a solution to assist IJF’s efforts, the teams diligently brainstormed how to solve the problem that IJF recognized and started coding their creative solutions. At the end of each day, the teams would meet with Hacktober hosts, Michael Dorsey, President of the Code Platoon alumni association, and Brenna Koss, Code Platoon’s Development and Operations Coordinator. In these meetings, the teams would show what they had accomplished up to that point and discuss any barriers they were facing.
The six teams that took on IJF’s challenge consisted of programmers of all walks of life. From graduates of Code Platoon’s most recent class, Lima Platoon, to individuals who have years of experience with coding. Team Sharp consisted of undergraduate and graduate students in the field of computer science, team 10K IQ was made up of undergrads in the Chicago area, team Lima Fox was made up mostly of Code Platoon’s Lima cohort. Team Tenacious Trio was made up of two graduates of Code Platoon and a supporter of the nonprofit Coding Bootcamp, Bit Lords was a team made up of enthusiastic coders who were happy to help IJF’s cause, and last but not least was team Squad-of-Squids who was made up of three Veterans and one college senior.
During non-pandemic times, this hackathon would probably have taken place in-person to allow the best conducive work environment possible. Still, even with the constraints of social distancing on top of a tight deadline, the teams were able to build some impressive applications.
On the final day of the virtual event, the participants presented their final products. While all of the teams put forth their best effort and came up with ingenious concepts to help connect Veterans in Illinois to the services they needed, only one group would be crowned as champions of the hackathon. The judging panel chose team Bit Lords, victorious for Code Platoon’s first hackathon.
“We want to show our appreciation for not only the time and talent and effort you put into it but for allowing us to let you know a little more about IJF’s mission,” said Senior Director of Development for IJF, Jim Dolan, after Demo Day. “I certainly understand more about the work that you guys do behind the scenes and have a great appreciation for that.”
Congratulations to team Bit Lord and members Saskia Arunabh, Saikia Ankur, Varun Shanbhg, Naunidh Singh, and Tushar Nitave for taking home first place. Kudos goes to everyone who participated in the competition as well.
If you were unable to tune into the Demo Day presentations, the event’s recordings could be found on the Code Platoon Youtube channel.
Amanda Michelle Gordon is one of Code Platoon’s summer interns, serving in the Content and Marketing department. She is a U.S. Air Force Veteran and a student of SUNY New Paltz for Journalism and Sociology. In her free time, Amanda enjoys reading, the outdoors, and turning coffee into copy. You can find Amanda on LinkedIn and Twitter.