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Aggie Computer Scientists Win 2019 Black Enterprise BE SMART Hackathon

09/18/2019 Students, College of Engineering

AUSTIN, TX (Sept. 18, 2019) – Students in the College of Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University placed first against 12 other historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the Black Enterprise 2019 BE SMART Hackathon, winning the event for the third time since its inception.

“Our computer science students are some of the best prepared in the country,” said Dr. Dorothy Yuan, chair of the Department of Computer Science in N.C. A&T’s College of Engineering. “We’re proud to celebrate their success.”

A&T bested a strong group of competitors from such schools as Hampton University, Morehouse College and Xavier University, winner of last year’s competition.

Sponsored by American Airlines, Prudential Financial, Dell Technologies, PayPal and Electronic Arts, the competition required each team of four students to work collaboratively on development of an app to increase the customer experience for visibility-impaired airline passengers. The A&T team changed the booking process to include speech-to-text to authenticated payments for those with disabilities, as well as a feature that tracks travelers who may have special needs to help provide their family members and loved ones with peace of mind.

In addition to gaining hacking experience, the students participated in informative workshops, coaching, career advice, networking and student tours at the headquarters of Dell, PayPal and Electronic Arts.

“After coming in fourth last year, this year was really a comeback year for us,” said A&T team leader Oluchi Chukwunyere, a junior majoring in computer science. “We came in hungry and eager to show what we're made of. The team and I worked hard throughout the hackathon and we all felt really passionate about our solution to empower visionally impaired travelers. It felt good to bring the title back to Aggieland. "
In addition to Chukwunyere, the team consisted of computer science students Dorian Holmes (junior), Dakota Price (sophomore) and Essence Cain (sophomore). For their win, each team member gets a $1,500 scholarship, 100,000 advantage miles, a backpack and headphones.
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