Hackathon sponsors provide opportunities for Kennesaw State students

KENNESAW, Ga. | Oct 7, 2022

At Kennesaw State University’s Fall 2022 Hackathon, students were given a challenge: “Helping people thrive in a connected world.” The prompt was provided by presenting sponsor, Assurant, and inspired by its company purpose. It was up to the students to use information technology skills and creativity to brainstorm a solution.

“The prompt was intentionally left open-ended so students from a variety of different majors could get involved,” said Director of Hackathon Dawn Tatum, who also serves as Director of the College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE) Partnerships and Engagements.


While the event is open to all students, Hackathon is CCSE’s annual, premier event to showcase student talent and connect students to industry partners. Despite its name, the event does not include hacking any computers.

“Hackathon is an opportunity for students to solve challenges and experience what it’s like to use their degree in the real world,” Tatum said. 

Representatives from Assurant were on campus to mentor students and provide feedback on their projects. 

“Kennesaw State students have consistently impressed us with their innovative ideas,” said Joe Spalla, Assurant VP Information Technology. “Hackathon is a great way for us to help the next generation get hands-on experience, but also provides us the opportunity to meet some of KSU’s best and brightest students.”

Students also had the unique opportunity to attend a networking session with employees from other businesses like Google, State Farm and SiteOne.

“I really enjoy the networking aspect of Hackathon because it’s introduced me to possible employers and has given me more information about what types of jobs are available to me after I graduate,” computer science sophomore Stephen Sulimani said.  

Sulimani participated with Luke Zeches last year, and this year Devin Beck joined their team.

“I heard Hackathon was a prime opportunity to get hands-on experience, so I was excited to get involved this year,” said Beck. 

Teams of students worked together over a three-day period to come up with a solution to the challenge, and on the final day, they presented their ideas to a panel of judges. Some of this year’s projects included a tool that diagnoses a patient’s heart failure risk using algorithms and data sets, a phone application that allows users to prepay at gas stations to improve efficiency, and a smart refrigerator that collects images of items inside to check for quality and quantity and generates a grocery list based on need.

“I really enjoy the brainstorming and pitching aspect of Hackathon,” Zeches said. “It’s really fun and inspiring to work as a team for a common goal.”

The following teams of students were recognized for their work:

1st place – Ngoc Nguyen, Sana Rashid, Megan Vo
2nd place – Key’shawn Billups, Trevor Fouce
3rd place – Jui Mhatre, Aishwarya Turlapati, Surya Praveen Adivi

– Abbey O’Brien Barrows
Photos by Judy Pishnery and Darnell Wilburn

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 45,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.