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AT&T, Franklin University Organize 12-Week Hackathon for High Schoolers

Jesse Bethea Jesse Bethea AT&T, Franklin University Organize 12-Week Hackathon for High Schoolers
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On October 2, Franklin University and AT&T Ohio launched Cbus Student Hack, a 12-week event in which high school students from around Central Ohio will compete to design the best mobile apps aimed at benefiting their communities. Each team of students has been tasked with creating an app that focuses on improving health and wellness. The teams must submit their projects by December 4.

Holly Hollingsworth, senior public relations manager for AT&T Ohio, said the company has organized other events of this kind in other states, which produced apps designed to navigate local farmers’ markets, help with public transportation scheduling and address tourism and economic development, among others. Hollingsworth said AT&T is interested in marrying technological innovation and career development, “by providing central Ohio area high school students with real world tangible computer science and coding experiences with the goal of finding a solution to a challenge in the area of health and wellness.”

Hollingsworth said all of the previous hackathons organized by AT&T have targeted the developer community, and the Columbus event will be the first time the participants have been high school students. The hackathon organizers worked with Reynoldsburg City Schools and determined that providing a focus area for the app designs would be the best way to keep the students engaged.

“Columbus is home to several anchor institutions in the health and wellness space such as Nationwide Children’s Hospital, OhioHealth, Cardinal Health and others, so we thought this would pique their interest,” said Hollingsworth in an email. “Most other hackathon events are general in nature, but some have focus areas like the recent Cleveland Medical Hackathon.”

Hollingsworth estimated between 40 and 60 kids are participating in the event, broken up into teams of 2 to 4. The participating students come from Gahanna Lincoln High School, Marburn Academy, Metro Early College, Metro Institute of Technology, New Albany High School, Reynoldsburg Encore Academy, Reynoldsburg eSTEM Academy, Upper Arlington High School and Whetstone High School. After submitting their final products on December 4, the designs will be judged on software quality, execution and creativity and potential impact on the Central Ohio region. Cash and other prizes will be given to the winning teams at an awards ceremony on December 11. The students will also have full ownership of every application they create for the event.

“One of the major workforce development questions today is how to fix the tech talent shortage,” said Christopher Washington, Provost and Senior Vice President of Franklin University, in a press release.  “I think universities and companies need to partner to introduce non-traditional methods to stimulate interest and talent in tech fields. CBusStudentHack is one way that AT&T and Franklin are working together to promote computer science education, prepare high school students for college and careers, and enable them to express their creativity.

For more information, visit www.cbusstudenthack.org.

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