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Kent State holds aviation 'hackathon'Kent State holds aviation 'hackathon'

Kent State University looks to spark some aviation innovation during a collegiate “hackathon,” or computer codefest, scheduled Oct. 13 to 15. Organizers believe the social event will be the “first ever” collegiate aviation hackathon, and the door is open to college students from any university who are 18 or older.

AOPA file photo.

For aviators unfamiliar with the term, Techopedia defines a hackathon as “a gathering where programmers collaboratively code in an extreme manner over a short period of time,” and its roots are in open source projects (a term for software code that is open and available to one and all) conceived as a vehicle to bring technology to the masses.

The Kent State gathering helps honor the fiftieth anniversary of the university’s flight technology program and the school's Burton D. Morgan foundation to support entrepreneurial aspirations. Morgan was a 1938 Kent State graduate who loved aviation.

Five challenges related to aviation will be presented over the weekend, and students will be encouraged to “establish interdisciplinary teams, innovate, produce prototypes and pitch their ideas to a panel of judges” for a chance at a $10,000 grand prize. Teams may consist of one to four students, and teams must build the entire project at the event.

A $1,000 prize for each of the five “challenge stream” concepts will sweeten the hacking pot.

The event is free and food will be provided. The university did not provide an estimate on how much pizza and refreshments would be required to fuel the hackers.

Hackathons have been embraced for other Kent State disciplines. A 2016 Fashion Tech hackathon drew collaborators that investigated wearable technologies and future innovations in a quick-paced environment that moved swifter than a traditional classroom, according to a video hosted by J.R. Campbell, the university’s fashion school director. “Something like a hackathon can really give us a chance to just kind of creatively think about what’s possible,” he said in the video.

The aviation program hoped to build on the successful fashion event that attracted hundreds of students who brainstormed self-tightening shoes; mirrors that helped model different colors and styles of clothing; and fanny packs that alerted wearers when they needed to drink more water.

“This is going to be a great experience for all students, but especially flight students, because they will have the opportunity to contribute to industry-related challenges,” Jackie Ruller, the interim director of Kent State’s engineering school, wrote in an email. She reiterated that students from “any university in the country” could participate.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Aviation Industry, Technology

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