100 GMIT and IT Carlow students take part in two-day Hackathon

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 Press Office
Press Release

Annual Microsoft-sponsored event helps students develop next generation software

Over 100 students from GMIT and IT Carlow took part in this year’s GMIT Hackathon hosted by students in the Department of Computer Science & Applied Physics at the Galway (Dublin Road) campus.


The hackathon, now in its fourth year, is an event that challenges students to extend their programming skills over a short period of time.  Sponsored by Microsoft Ireland, the students, from degree programmes such as Software Development and Digital Media (GMIT), and Games Development (ITC), set out to develop new and innovative apps for the Windows 10 platform.


During the hackathon, students developed games like Whack-a-mole and Tower Defence.  They worked on apps to help people build a PC by providing useful information about the component parts;  one student, Vaida Abelkyte (pictured), worked on creating an app called the Mentalyser which tracks humans’ moods using a simple user interface.  It provides some general information on mental health and shows the user how his/her mood changes as they use the app.


“Practical and applied programming skills are a big part of our computing programmes within the Dept of Computer Science & Applied Physics here in GMIT,” says Damian Costello, lecturer in Software Development.


“The hackathon underpins this ethos and encourages students to understand the teamwork and processes involved in being part of a team creating IT-based solutions to particular problems.”


“Over the past number of years, the GMIT Hackathon has proven to be a really successful initiative, endorsed by employers such as Microsoft, as it provides a positive, energetic forum for students to develop their skills and learn in a collaborative and practical environment.”


“Apps are an excellent teaching tool in software development; students develop a portfolio of work that they can easily demonstrate at an interview, for instance.  As devices become smaller and more connected and ubiquitous, the possibilities for our students are constantly expanding.”


This year, Games Development students from IT Carlow travelled to GMIT to take part.  IT Carlow lecturer Phil Bourke says “The hackathon is a pivotal event for students to engage with the team-based approach to software design and development.  Events like the GMIT Hackathon provide an excellent learning opportunity for our students to meet and program with their peers“.


Attending the hackathon from Microsoft Ireland were Stephen Howell, Academic Engagements Manager, Josh Holmes, Director of Architecture, and Ryan Mesches, Technical Evangalist.


Stephen Howell, says: “Microsoft is committed to empowering students with the tools they need to develop next generation software. Hackathons like this one in GMIT provide us with an excellent forum to help students learn the skills they will need to differentiate themselves in the competitive job market. All three of us were very impressed by the enthusiasm of the students as we offered advice and support over the two days”, he added. 


GMIT’s Innovation Hub and Bank of Ireland StartLab also supported the event this year, sponsoring prizes and refreshments for the students. “Many of the students taking part in this year’s Hackathon have expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of starting their own ventures and events such as these are ideal avenues for this,” says Maria Staunton, GMTI Innovation Hub Manager.


For further information on programmes in the GMIT Department of Computer Science & Applied Physics, please visit:  http://www.gmit.ie/software-development/bachelor-science-computing-soft…