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York Tech, Winthrop partner to host 24-hour "hackathon"

York Technical College and Winthrop University partnered to hold a 24-hour "hackathon," a designing and coding competition, at The Hive earlier this month.

York Technical College and Winthrop University partnered to hold a 24-hour "hackathon," a designing and coding competition, at The Hive earlier this month.

Five teams of students from Winthrop University, York Technical College, and Rock Hill High School competed in "Wired Hack 15.1" January 15 and 16. Centered on a theme of civic engagement, the teams were charged with developing a web, mobile, or alternative media that could help increase civic engagement in Rock Hill and the surrounding community.

The teams began by brainstorming and planning on white boards. Later, they developed databases and websites or mobile apps based on their plan. While individuals from the teams could leave to sleep for a few hours, rules stipulated that at least one team member must remain present at all times. Most team members persevered through the night.

Exactly 24 hours after the event kicked off, the groups made their presentations. Judges were Vince Simonowicz, IT director with the City of Rock Hill and Jason Dellaruso, product development manager with Span Enterprises. Several local employers attended to scout for talent.

While all teams worked diligently and produced impressive results, "Rock Hill Volunteers" - a Winthrop University team made up of Paige Meinke, Zac Gordon, Michael Threat, and Ethan Hanner - took first place and were presented with five-terabyte external hard drives. Another team from Winthrop, the "One Heart" team composed of Tara Slabich, Courtney Stokes, Billy Greene, and Marcus Nesbitt, won second place and received 16 GB iPod Nanos. Third place went to Ben Madison, Caitlin Mears, and Gabriel White, a Rock Hill High School team; these students won Raspberry Pis, credit-card sized computers.

Even after being awake for more than 30 hours, the teams were enthusiastic and participants declared it a great learning experience.

The South Carolina Department of Commerce Innovation Challenge Grant provided funding for the hackathon. The grant funds activities related to technology talent development and awareness for Knowledge Park in Rock Hill.