Gavilan students build games to solve social problems at CSUMB hackathonby Jan Janes on Dec 2, 2016
Hackathons bring together diverse teams to build a minimum viable product (MVP) during a 40-hour, intense weekend. Participants dedicate a weekend, create new solutions and build lifelong professional networks.
Local groups suggested community or social problems, and teams formed based on interest and skills. An additional challenge for participants this year: the solution needed to be a game.
Six Gavilan students, two separate teams
Gav computer science students Corey Hunter, Serhii Krutyholova and Melissa Huggins teamed with CSUMB students on Deal With It! Their challenge was to devise a solution to the problem of youth financial literacy. Many young people are not taught the basics of managing money and find themselves struggling after taking on too much debt.
Juan Castrillion, David Galindo and Jeffrey Koppelmaa formed a small team addressing student food issues. Their project, Starving Students, created a game to help students stretch food budgets as far as possible and help locate free and low cost resources. Many homeless and hungry students are on campuses nationwide, more than most people realize
Gavilan computer science student Juan Castrillion walks Miguel Lara,
CSUMB professor and hackathon judge, through the game Starving
Students, designed to solve food scarcity using gaming technology.
CSUMB hackathon: first for Gav students
Students worked late into Friday night after breaking into teams and developed workflows based on skill sets. Mentors from area colleges and companies experienced in gaming, user experience and programming were available to all the teams. Saturday was an intensive work day, and students staggered development time with brief naps. Because the event fell during the time change back to standard time, hackers benefited from a free, extra hour to work.
Gavilan College sponsored the admission of the Gav students, who were well fed and caffeinated.
"The students' questions guided the development of the Starving Students project," said Zachary Daulton, Gavilan instructional specialist who served as a mentor during the event. "After the initial research, students learned code, problem solved and created the game narrative."
"I learned how to use gamemaker language, GML, which is like HTML, but for games," said Koppelmaa about working on Starving Students. " I came away from the weekend with new programming skills."
For David Galindo, who provided graphics for Starving Students, he overcame caution about sharing his talents. "I heard good feedback, it put my artwork to good purpose and greater exposure," he said.
The Gavilan team developing Deal With It created a tangible solution to the problem of student financial literacy using PHP coding, easily navigable text and buttons.
With mom watching, seven-year-old Dovey test drives Deal with It, a game
designed to teach youth financial literary, as Melissa Huggins, Mac Cooper
and Serhii Krutyholova look on.
On Sunday, teams stopped development at noon and set up displays in an open viewing area. Because the MVP was interactive, all four judges individually tested the 14 different solutions students created. Friends of participants and the public also tested many of the solutions and offered valuable feedback to the development teams.
14 teams, 60+ participants, 44 hours
"The students did really creative work," said Brad Barbeau, Associate Professor in CSUMB's College of Business. "I'm pleased the event has grown, which speaks to student interest in the CSUMB computer science program."
Start Up Weekend, Monterey Bay, slated for January 27-29, 2017, is the next CSUMB sponsored event, where hackathon participants can decide to apply a business model to their newly created MVPs.
Participants of the 2016 CSUMB Hackathon celebrate after showcasing
their gaming software solutions to the judges.