Mozilla, TechEmpower Sponsor LMU Hackathon

A community of computer-minded creators gathered at LMUHacks on Feb. 1 in Pereira Quad. It was a daylong event where students of all majors could engage and work in teams to build technical projects, network and make connections with other Loyola Marymount University students and company sponsors. This year, sponsors Mozilla and TechEmpower provided funding, mentorships, and workshops for the students. The hackathon event brought together 80 people total, including 43 participating hackers.

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43 participating hackers at the LMUHacks event.

The winner of Best Overall Hack, sponsored by TechEmpower, was the team of Kaitlyn Behrens, Evan Mitchell and Merissa Tan for their project “Plantydex.” Mozilla’s State of the Internet award went to the team of Breelyn Betts, Will DiBiagio, Mike Branconier, Manny Barreto for their project called “Servicer.” The team of Kira Toal and Jennifer Siao won Best Freshman/Transfer Student Hack for their “Download Time” project. Most Creative Hack went to the team of Andrew Seaman, Carter Pon, Caitlin Colina, Michael Elias for their project “Artificer.” And the Best Hack for Good was awarded to Nick Slanec, Alexia Filler, Moriah Tolliver for “accessLMU.”

“We had workshops throughout the day to teach the hackers new skills, hone existing skills or help with presentation skills,” said Nico Raymundo, a junior computer science major and an organizer of the event. The workshops included improving communication skills for demoing and pitching skills to company executives, among others.

Donkers is one of many organizers who hope students left the hackathon wanting to continue their projects in the future.

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LMU students at the LMUHacks event.

“A lot of startups begin at hackathons,” said Adriana Donkers, another junior computer science major and lead organizer. “I was part of a hackathon my freshman year and my team formed a startup idea. We worked on that project and it led to the creation of a startup company which was pitched to investors.”

Pegler-Gordon explained that projects developed during LMUhacks included web apps, videogames, and mobile apps. Students demo their projects and judges decide who wins for each category.

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LMUHacks team working on their project.

One such category is Hack for Good, which encourages students to help solve a social justice issue through computer science projects. The community believes this will get students interested in start-ups to help solve global problems.

“A decentralized Github was one project idea discussed,” said Maya Pegler-Gordon, junior computer science major and organizer. “Somebody else was talking about making a website for friends. Another student was focused on sustainability and reducing clothing waste. She pitched her website needs and inspired a team to help her build that website.”

“Go in open-minded, be ready to learn and take on a new skill. Don’t forget to have fun! Don’t forget to bring you laptop and charger,” said Maddie Louis, a junior computer science major and lead organizer, sharing encouragement for future hackers.

Reporter James Reed is a senior English major.