SOIS Students Compete and Win in Regional Hackathons

Earlier this month, SOIS students put their problem-solving skills to the test at a pair of Milwaukee-area hackathons. The events were hosted by The Commons and Northwestern Mutual. They brought together many of the innovators and stakeholders in Milwaukee’s budding tech scene and demonstrated the great potential that SOIS students have to offer.

A hackathon is timed competition that challenges participants to solve a specific problem using a set of resources or constraints. They encourage quick thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Hackathons are plenty of fun. They’re also great opportunities for networking and typically offer prizes to the winning teams.

At the Commons’ April 7th Civic Hack-It Bracket, students proposed solutions to civic issues using the latest in disruptive technology: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, and the Internet of Things. The hackathon was organized as a tournament in the style of “March Madness.” Sponsors included Advancing AI Wisconsin and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

SOIS Senior Lecturer Matt Friedel was on hand to judge the Civic Hack-It-Bracket and help mentor the challenges. He’s also the co-director of the new Disruptive Technology Lab at SOIS. The Lab will provide facilities for research and innovation into nascent technologies like AI, Blockchain, and the Internet of Things. The SOIS initiative is bolstered by new class offerings and partnerships with Advancing AI Wisconsin, Northwestern Mutual, and The Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.

“UWM and the School of Information Studies are committed to helping Milwaukee’s evolving start-up and tech ecosystems with active participation from students and staff at these great events,” said Friedel.

At Northwestern Mutual’s Hack It ‘Til You Crack It! event on April 6th, participants worked with real financial data to solve problems by identifying patterns and behaviors. The data was anonymized for the sake of privacy, but messy and challenging in every other way.

Among the winners was SOIS student Terry Staiduhar, who took home a $200 Amazon gift card from the Civic-Hack-It-Bracket. Sujeeth Ramagoni, Vanessa Rodriguez, Austin Ryou, and Christopher LaGrange also represented SOIS at the events.

Photos of the Event:

Media Links:
Biz Journal – Wisconsin Students Compete at Northwestern
Fox News – College Students Complete in 1st Ever Hack It Til You Crack It Marathon
CBS News – Northwestern Mutual Holds First Hackathon for Local College Students