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JCSU places second in Black Enterprise’s 2019 BE Smart Hackathon

Deben Peterson ’22, Jordan Green ’21, Adrien Simmons ‘21 and Winstongabriel Simmons ’20 competing in Hackathon

AUSTIN, Texas, November 26, 2019 - Johnson C. Smith University made its highest finish ever during Black Enterprise’s 2019 BE Smart Hackathon September 13 - 16, 2019 in Austin, Texas.

Deben Peterson ’22, Jordan Green ’21, Adrien Simmons ‘21 and Winstongabriel Simmons ’20 competed against students from 11 other historically Black colleges and universities in the event hosted by American Airlines. 

Students spent 24 hours coding and programming an app for the airline that would improve customer service experience, and make travel easier for the underage, elderly and/or visually impaired. 

“My experience at this hackathon was one of the toughest, but the best growth I have seen within a day,” Peterson emphasized.

At the end of the competition, JCSU finished second, behind North Carolina A&T State University. 

Earning second place did not discourage the team of talented computer science and engineer majors, who said this was a great moment, and honor.

“We were one of the smaller schools to participate, so being placed against some of the biggest HBCUs in the country was a good learning experience,” Green said. 

Prizes were awarded to all 48 participants, which included scholarship dollars, free miles from American Airlines as well as prizes from sponsors, including Prudential Financial, PayPal, Electronic Arts, and Dell Technologies.

In addition, JCSU students participated in corporate tours to learn the technical and professional requirements of what it’s like to work at tech companies. 

Peterson added, “In our eyes, JCSU has some of the best talent in computer science and it felt great to show that in front of companies and other top HBCUs.”

Terik Tidwell, JCSU’s director of STEM Innovation Initiative, agrees. Tidwell is proud of what his students accomplished and is eager to take top honors next year.

“We are so proud of our four students that conquered this competition. They were able to overcome the challenge as a team, open their eyes to all things required to create an app and look forward to all future career opportunities,” he said.

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