STEM Students Win Hackathon, $10,000

Hannah Thompson, Staff Writer

Nerves turned to excitement in the Tiger Den as the first snack order successfully showed up on the screen of the newly installed and student created ordering system.

A group of 10 EHS students competed against 20 schools in the St. Louis area in a five week STEM Hackathon hosted by World Wide Technology (WWT).  Edwardsville placed first, winning $10,000 for the EHS STEM program.

The challenge was to identify and solve a problem in their school or community.

The EHS students were immediately drawn to the idea of helping the Tiger Den, according to senior Austin Svoboda.

“The problem that we faced was that the Tiger Den was taking valuable time out of the class period,” Svoboda said. “We solved the problem by streamlining the process with a web app. We also installed a server computer to host the server.”

Marc DeSantis, Director of Software Development at WWT, acted as the EHS mentor for the program this year.  He said the students were eager to help out the Tiger Den.

“I was impressed with how highly they regarded the Tiger Den program and their passion for wanting to build something that would really help,” DeSantis said. “They weren’t just looking to win a competition.”

Senior Karlye Murray said getting to know the students and faculty that run the Tiger Den was one of the best parts of the entire process.

“Just seeing their faces light up with excitement when we told them what we were doing was really rewarding,” Murray said. “Two FLS students even delivered cookies to the judges at the Hackathon, and you could tell how proud they were to be a part of the whole competition.”

Once they had a plan, the students met with Bill Meiner, the head of I.T. at District 7, to discuss the implementation of the system into the school, according to senior Javier Nieto.

“They graciously provided us with a small desktop, a touchscreen and a printer for the Tiger Den to receive orders made by our system,” Nieto said. “They have also set up a server in the district for us to start running our system though.”

After implementing the system at the school, the team presented the solution to a panel of judges at the WWT headquarters. Murray said placing first in the competition was very fulfilling.“I was very shocked at first, but then I became excited and proud when I realized that we really won.”

While the money from the competition will help advance the EHS Stem program, DeSantis believes that another important benefit of the program is raising awareness of the field to young people.

“I am amazed to see the passion and excitement that students have for software development these days,” DeSantis said. “It’s a great time to get into the field.”