East Mississippi Community College’s Information Systems Technology Department is helping coordinate the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indian’s first hackathon in July. Here, EMCC’s IST department co-sponsored the Golden Triangle Comic-Con in Columbus in August of last year.

July 3, 2018

East Mississippi Community College’s Information Systems Technology department is partnering with the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians on the tribe’s first hackathon, Hack the Future: Between Earth and Sky, which runs from Friday, July 13, to Sunday, July 15, on the tribal reservation.

“We are excited to be partnering with the Choctaw tribe to create this powerful program that promotes innovation and immersive learning for our students and local industry partners,” said Dr. Raj Shaunak, vice president of Workforce and Community Services at EMCC. Shaunak sits on the hackathon’s steering committee and will serve as a judge during the final pitch competition.

Hackathon participants will form ad-hoc teams to tackle some of the toughest challenges faced by participating businesses in the region. High school, college and university students age 16 to 26 are encouraged to apply, as are recent graduates and young professionals.

“Sometimes people are confused when they hear the word ‘hack’ but this is all about problem solving and creativity,” EMCC IST Director Brandon Sesser said. “‘Hacking’ in this context means using out-of-the-box thinking and iterative prototyping to find unexpected solutions to real-world problems.”

Businesses from throughout the region, and world, have been invited to submit problems they face in three types of technology that will be used to prototype solutions: Augmented Reality, which uses software to impose information or images onto real-world objects; Internet of Things, which allows the exchange of data between machines and equipment via sensors and software; and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or drones.

Industry experts in each of the fields will be on hand to serve as mentors to the teams. There will also be guest speakers and breakout sessions at the event, which will include an after party for participants, a virtual reality and gaming gallery and more than $10,000 in prizes.

At the event, which will take place on the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians reservation in Philadelphia, participants will be able to choose which problem statements they would like to work on and will self-organize into teams to work on the particular problem of their choosing.

Students from all areas of study are welcome: in fact hackathons encourage and require multi-disciplinary perspectives to problem-solving.

“A programmer is going to think a lot differently from someone in graphic design,” Sesser said. “A photographer will have a different perspective than a cyber security expert or a psychology major. When all these different minds look at a problem, you can come up with innovative solutions that may have never been considered before.”

The cost to participate is $25 for students and $50 for professionals. Online applications for participation are being accepted through the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians website portal at http://choctawbusiness.com/hackathon-2018

Twenty EMCC students will attend and are being sponsored by the college’s Workforce Services Division.