By Colin Morgan.
On November 14 and 15, 2014, a new student club called the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE) will hold a Hackathon event for CUNY students.
The Hackathon is an event where students will be challenged to create a computer or phone application based on a set of guidelines within 12 hours. Participants will create their applications in groups of five, and the team with the best application will win $2,000 to share amongst themselves. The 15-hour event will run from 6:00 P.M. to 9:00 A.M. the next morning.
The club organizing the Hackathon, NSBE Lehman, is a chapter of a large, non-profit organization whose goal is to increase the number of black students obtaining degrees in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. Other NSBE chapters around the country have held their own Hackathons, but this will be Lehman’s first.
NSBE Lehman president Dana Smith, was inspired to bring the NSBE and Hackathon to Lehman because of her own experience at the 40th National NSBE Convention in Nashville, Tennessee in March, 2014. “At the convention they had a career fair, a graduate school fair, a Hackathon and so many other workshops. It was amazing. I went to the career fair and had like 5 or 6 interviews with Fortune 500 companies, received job offers and internship offers from them, and then my team won the Hackathon. So it was just an amazing experience for me, and I just said, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to do this for Lehman now!’”
Lehman’s Hackathon will feature recruiters from Goldman Sachs. Smith said, “As long as I’ve been here for two and a half years [Goldman Sachs] has never come to Lehman, and I’ve never seen them come to a CUNY school. It’s a rare opportunity that they’re coming, and I think that everyone should take advantage of that.” David Gross, one of the Hackathon organizers, said, “It’s good to get the students help network with companies, and that’s something I think a lot of students don’t do or don’t have.”
Students who have never developed an application before are encouraged to participate in the Hackathon. According to Smith, “Programming is just one phase of developing software. You need planning, you need to get the images and graphics, you need a lot of other things. And you will also need to make the presentation. Even if you’re not programming, you’re going to learn a lot from other people.” The club offers students opportunities to work on business and interview skills, improve their GPA, and most importantly, build connections and relationships with others who can provide jobs.
The Hackathon will be the first of many events held by the new NSBE Lehman club. There are several feature events: a group excursion to a regional NSBE convention in Hauppauge, NY; a visit from the internship company INROADS, who will provide workshops; a guaranteed 4.0 workshop to help students boost their grades; and an excursion to the 41st National NSBE Convention in Anaheim, California.
The web site nsbelehman.com contains more information about the Hackathon and future events.