Computer Science graduate student part of winning team at City of Houston Hackathon

Image of Reza H. Teshnizi

Graduate student Reza H. Teshnizi was part of this year’s winning team of hackers at the City of Houston 2nd Annual Open Hackathon. As well as being a graduate student in the Distributed AI Robotics Lab in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering under Dr. Dylan Shell, Teshnizi is also a research assistant in the Knowledge Engineering Laboratory in the Department of Entomology.

The winning project, executed by the team of five, was The City of Houston Blighted Properties plan. Because city council members and citizens of Houston would like to be informed about the commercial or residential sites that are vacant, uninhabitable and hazardous throughout the city, the team set out to make the process of doing that much simpler for the people involved.

“Using our GIS and programming skill set, we were able to provide citizens and council members a proactive means of having prompt, comprehensive, and visual access to such information,” Teshnizi said.  

The hackathon, which took place the last weekend in May, was a success all around and the city is already preparing for next year’s event.

 “This event was a chance to put my technical and teamwork abilities in practice with a team of people from diverse backgrounds,” Teshnizi said.

Teshnizi is enjoying his research with Shell and has had a productive time at the Distributed AI and Robotics Lab. After earning his master's degree, he plans on expanding his expertise in his research areas of interest.

“I think it is essential for every computer science student to understand that the skill set which we gain throughout our course of study in the CSE department is versatile. It is our responsibility as engineers to keep an open eye for such problems and apply our knowledge to the benefit of the society. Many people who are proposing the problems in other scientific areas are not well aware of the capabilities of computer scientists.”