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Innovative mobile apps developed at Hackathon

Huddled over computers, students spent Saturday developing code they said they hoped would improve campus life at the USF Hackathon.

About 20 students, separated into groups comprising of developers and designers, came up with apps ranging from those used to find study partners to those intended to facilitate textbook exchanges.

Hosted by USF Createch, a group whose members won the Mayors Hackathon this summer, the Hackathon called for students to share ideas for mobile applications that will help USF or the overall community.
Ideas were then judged by their design, community impact and the future potential of the application. Along with the potential creation of the app, the top three teams received prizes from their sponsors, the Nielsen Company and Tampa Technology Forum. The companies, which specialize in improving and integrating technology, donated a total of $1,000 in prizes to Createch for hosting the event.

The winning team of four students, Charles Burgess, Oge Ichoku, Daniel Gomez and Michael Maurer, who each recieved a $100 gift card to the technology website, developed an app that makes daily USF dining hall menus available with photos and ratings.

George Hebron, a senior majoring in computer science and Createch senior adviser, said the intent of the competition was to foster the spirit of innovation.

Our main goal is to bring creativity and technology together, which is something that the (computer science) industry requires but is not being taught in school, he said.

Daniel Goodwin, a senior majoring in computer science, worked to create a study-buddy app, an app that can help students find potential study partners based on class and course material.

I like competition, he said. It forces me to concentrate and focus more instead of messing around.

Jayne Hollerbaugh, director of marketing for Tampa Bay Technology Forum, invited the students to attend upcoming technology seminars and meet with companies offering internship opportunities.

Ive been on the hiring side, Hollerbaugh said. I know how much better it looks when you have an internship.

Among those who stopped by to show support were Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe.

This will change our community more than anything else, Sharpe said. Economic development is truly driven by young minds and a younger work force.

Job creation, he said, starts with the creativity coming from the universities.

Sharpe said that organizations, like Createch, which build on young peoples ideas of technological advancements, could help a struggling community create jobs.

Weve been trying to encourage students to get more involved in this type of effort and stay in Tampa Bay and start your business in Tampa Bay, Sharpe said. These students are going to mentor us. Theyre going to come in and say this is how it can work better. This is a great way to kick start the entrepreneurship in Tampa Bay.

Former president and co- founder of Createch, Luqmaan Dawoodje, said during the Hackathon that the event probably would not be the start of the next Facebook.

Were not doing this because we want things built, but because we want to connect the developers with people who are excited about programming on a Saturday morning, he said.

Though Dawoodje graduated, he hopes to help the organization host similar events, like the Hackathon, in the future.