Approximately 308 students from various colleges, universities and high schools across the country gathered on the Woodbridge Campus to participate in the second annual Innovation Hackathon event, held at the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET) on April 21 to 23.
Innovation Hackathon, a 36-hour-long competition offered hands-on experience to students interested in cybersecurity and secure coding methods. Participants came prepared for the weekend with sleeping bags and overnight items, eager to work in teams to “hack” several challenges provided by corporate sponsors CACI International Inc. and AllCyber. The challenges involved the complexities of the Internet of Things (IoT), data visualization, cybersecurity and secure programming for first-, second- and third-place teams to win a DJI Phantom 3 Standard Drone, Canakit Raspberry Pi3, Samsung Galaxy Tablet, Pebble Smartwatch, Fitbit Alta Activity Tracker and a host of gift cards and certificates.
Keynote speaker Lisa Fairchild Jones, CEO and co-founder of SafeTComm, Inc., provided insight on the opportunities and challenges of IoT and the elements that will drive its growth in the next decade. In addition to the hackathon competition, highly-trained cybersecurity experts spoke to participants on topics involving computer science and information technology through “Tech Talks.” Competition participants and the general public explored career opportunities with several local IT and cybersecurity companies at a job fair as part of the hackathon weekend event.
NOVA student Luke Golaszewski was one of many among the crowd of “hackers” who attended this year’s event for the first time. His desire to register came after hearing positive reviews from last year’s hackathon. As a cybersecurity major taking classes at both the Woodbridge and Manassas campuses, Golaszewski said he had to experience this unique opportunity for himself.
“I was most excited about participating in the challenges since I had heard such great things about them and I wasn’t disappointed,” Golaszewski said. “I participate in the AllCyber program at NOVA and so many of our members talked about their experiences at the hackathon last year. I’ve always had an interest in technology and computers, which sparked my interest in pursuing a career in cybersecurity. This event motivated and encouraged me to continue with my goal of becoming an expert in the field.”
Thomas Mitchell, NOVA spring 2016 graduate and former president of the Innovation Hackathon team, initiated the idea to host the event at NOVA last year after he attended a hackathon at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). With help from other Woodbridge Campus students and faculty, Mitchell’s vision to host the Campus’s first interactive hackathon became a reality. Rizvan Rashik, NOVA student and 2017 president of Innovation Hackathon, said this year’s event offered more intricate challenges for participants to use a variety of techniques to test their creativity, originality and social impact.
For more on NOVA’s Cybersecurity and IT programs, the Regional Center for Workforce Development and Training or on NOVA’s Workforce Development programs, visit http://www.nvcc.edu.