Students of color from more than a dozen historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are making their way to Austin, Texas. They’re gearing up for the Black Enterprise 2019 BE Smart Hackathon, a three-day event in which 13 teams of four college students will each work collaboratively to develop an app and compete for prizes.
The students have been flown to Round Rock, a suburb of Austin, from all over the country to participate in this year’s BE Smart hackathon, sponsored by American Airlines, Prudential Financial, Dell Technologies, PayPal, and Electronic Arts. In addition to hours of immersive hacking, they will also get access to informative workshops, coaching, career advice, networking, and student tours at the headquarters of Dell, PayPal, and EA.
The HBCUs represented this year are: Alabama A&M University, Bowie State University, Dillard University, Fisk University, Hampton University, Jackson State University, Johnson C. Smith University, Lincoln University, Morehouse College, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T University, Tuskegee University, and Xavier University of Louisiana.
Students will find out on site what corporate challenge they will be building a solution to. Judges will assess the students’ apps in light of their projected impact, innovation, and technical achievement, as well as the students’ ability to work as a team and on their presentation skills. After meeting with each of the teams one-on-one, the judges will select the top five teams to present on the main stage before all attendees.
Last year, the team from Xavier University in Louisiana were the winners on a special project that was created by American Airlines. This is Black Enterprise’s fifth year of presenting the BE Smart Hackathon, usually in conjunction with TechConneXt. This year’s TCX Experience will immediately follow the hackathon and tackle the issues of diversity in technology, the emergence of technologies such as blockchain and AI, and using tech to advance the social good.