Hackathons Get Smart

DerbyHacks smart cities hackathon

What do future cities and University of Louisville students have in common? They're smart. 

For proof, just ask the more than 100 students who participated in the 2017 DerbyHacks hackathon at the U of L Institute for Product Realization. The event gave them valuable hands-on experience developing innovative technologies, with mentorship from leading experts from the public and private sector. 

They spent the weekend imagining and hacking software and hardware for connecting future cities — from teaching Amazon’s Alexa smart assistant to play chess to mapping the best places to buy a home, accounting for crime rates and other factors.  

Sam Nwosu, a graduate student at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering and president of the Speed Association for Computing Machinery U of L chapter, said hackathons are a great opportunity for hands-on learning experiences.

"In the work environment, there's so much stuff you need to know going in," he said. "I would say to anyone who's still going through school, just look out for those opportunities to learn and do hands-on stuff, because it'll pay off a lot down the line."

And with hackathons, students can not only gain experience that could help them get jobs after graduation, but they could win prizes doing it. Nwosu went into his first hackathon with zero experience, and still won four scooters. 

There’s a full list of projects and winners here, on the DerbyHacks website. 2017 marked the second annual hackathon, which was organized by University of Louisville students with help from outside organizations. 

In the work environment, there’s so much stuff you need to know going in...I would say to anyone who’s still going through school, just look out for those opportunities to learn and do hands-on stuff, because it’ll pay off a lot down the line.
— Sam Nwosu, a computer science and computer engineering graduate student and president of Speed ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) student chapter.