Aggies win at Facebook Hackathon

hackathon_aggies.jpgUpdate (3/28): News article featured in The Battalion can be found here.

Aggies Robert (Bob) Timm, computer science junior, Eleni Mijalis, biology sophomore, and Rafael (Rafa) Moreno, computer science sophomore, took first place at the Facebook Texas Regional Hackathon held February 28 - March 1, 2014 in Austin, Texas. Coulton Vento, a Blinn Team freshman, teamed up with two high schoolers and won third with an iPhone app "that matched up potential college roommates in the same way Tinder matches up couples," said Rafa Moreno. There were approximately 120 participants from the University of Texas, Rice University, and Texas A&M University.

Also attending from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M were computer science majors Nicolas Botello, Jose Manriquez, and Roel Orduño, who worked on a social network project called university-notes. This is a work in progress with a feature that will calculate GPA and the highest course grade possible based on grade input and remaining assignments, quizzes, and tests.

The winning Texas A&M team's idea was a "web based application that allows Facebook users to 'tag' individuals before they even join Facebook," commented Rafa. "When users join Facebook they can then utilize our tool to consolidate all of that generated content into one profile in the chronological order that it was created." A neat feature for parents whose newborns eventually grow into a Facebook profile.

"Our Facebook app was acclaimed for it's ingenuity and simpleness," said Rafa. "The idea was Eleni's, who although she could not code outside of a classroom C++ setting (...this hackathon inspired her to begin learning web, android, etc.) was the main contributor to the apps features and our final presentation, which Facebook said was a big key in their selecting us as winners. Bob worked on implementing the app functionality using the Facebook API and php, and my main role was the design and some website programming."

Rafa has started a hackathon initiative at Texas A&M hoping to attract more Aggie participation and more financial support for travel to and from events. "These hackathons are a relatively new concept, and are starting to blow up all around the United States. Jose and I have gone to Rice, UT, UPenn, and Facebook representing A&M, and Coulton has gone to Michigan, as well as Rice and Facebook.

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Photo: Aggies: (l-r) Roel Orduño, Jose Manriquez, Coulton Vento, Rafa Moreno, Nicolas Botello, Eleni Mijalis, and Robert Timm