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Old Dominion University Hackathon to test Programmers’ Skill

For 24 hours this weekend, bright and motivated Old Dominion University computer programmers will apply their passion and ingenuity to a real-world problem facing students.

From 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 21 until 12:30 p.m. the next day, the Strome Entrepreneurial Center will host Monarchs Hack the Campus, a "hackathon" contest designed to test participants' skill in creating working computer programs and products.

The event is being hosted in partnership with the National Society of Black Engineers, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Association for Computing Machinery and ODU's Video Game Development Club.

The Strome Center, which opened on campus last fall, thanks largely to an $11-million gift from the Strome Family Foundation, shares much in common with the spirit of hackathon competitions, said executive director Nancy Grden.

For that reason, she isn't surprised the concept has taken off at Old Dominion.

"The students have taken a real leadership role with Monarchs Hack the Campus," Grden said. "The same skills that are so essential in business start-ups are on display in hackathon-type competitions, where problems to solve meet ingenuity, crossed with a tight deadline. We're excited to host the event."

Old Dominion students have developed an affinity for the competitions. At Dominion Enterprises' tenth-annual hackathon event, "HackU - Coding Student Life," ODU students competed against five other Hampton Roads universities to design and build an application that would impact students' lives.

At the competition, the "Most Innovative Award" went to a group of ODU students for their app "Cred," which helps students organize and participate in events, and "gamifies" the user experience with rewards and badges. The team included Old Dominion students Quientin Headen, Alex Dohrn, Avinash Ashok Gosavi, Bharath Kongara and Raghav Sai Cheedalla.

And last fall, a team of student entrepreneurs from Old Dominion travelled to the state of Washington to compete in the national finals of the United Athletes Foundation (UAF) Hackathon, a program to inspire and empower minority student entrepreneurs to consider careers in technology.

At Monarchs Hack the Campus, students will begin working on their projects - which will all have something to do with solving a problem students typically face - at 1 p.m. on Saturday. The Strome Center will be open through the night, as teams of up to five students work to solve their problem.

Judging begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, based on impact, solution value, innovation, technical achievement and functionality or usability of the innovation.

The Strome Entrepreneurial Center is a key part of Old Dominion's efforts to create an entrepreneurial culture. It exists to educate students on entrepreneurship as a viable career path, and cultivate students as up-and-coming business leaders.

The Center encourages and enables all members of the University community to start new ventures, whether for profit or not for profit. Social entrepreneurs are welcome.

For more information about the Strome Center and related opportunities at Old Dominion, visit the Entrepreneurship website.

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