BlueHack Atlanta: A Hackathon for Historically Black Colleges and Universities

IBM hosted the first-ever hackathon for students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities held in Atlanta, Georgia.

 By Crystal Claybrooks Jones, Diversity Program Manager

For the first time in history, IBM hosted a hackathon for students of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 106 Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering students from 33 HBCU universities like Southern University and A&M College and Tennessee State University journeyed to Atlanta, Georgia to embark on this exciting adventure.

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“I am glad to see that IBM is reaching out to the HBCU community, and recognizing the remarkable talent these institutions have to offer. I am a proud IBMer and a proud HBCU alum!” says Robin Ehobia, an Analytics Specialist and a graduate of Howard University.

Dubbed “BlueHack Atlanta”, this 30-hour event was the first hackathon that these students attended, and they were eager to begin the experience. They were welcomed to the event by IBM executives Obed Louissaint and Rosalia Thomas who gave technical and professional motivation. Divided into teams, the students were assigned an IBM mentor who provided insight as they developed and implemented their ideas utilizing IBM Bluemix.

Teams were given challenges where technology can play an essential role in major societal and industry transformation:

  • Next Generation Consumers Solutions: engaging with people in different ways
  • Simplifying the world: Making better processes
  • User Experience and Learning Solutions: Transform user experience using AI technology
  • BYC (Bring your Own Challenge), where the team can devise their own challenge

The product and pitch development, implementation and execution were the core of BlueHack Atlanta. Detailed information about the team projects and winners of BlueHack Atlanta may be found on this link.

For Anna McCormick, IBM Candidate Experience Lead and one of the faculty attendees, it was a “great opportunity to see students, actively and enthusiastically engage in a new experience. They utilized their technical, project management, and soft skills in a focused time period.”

The event was also attended by IBM professionals who provided technical support and consultation as teams developed their products and built narratives about the need for and use of their products. Many of the IBMers stayed up through the wee hours of the night to encourage and support the students. The execution of this event was epitome of our IBM value, “Unite to get it done now.”

Of the 106 attendees, 33 have been recommended for an internship offer and 60 have been recommended for a full time offer!

BlueHack is an IBM event where developers, entrepreneurs and professionals connected to the innovation community gather together in a friendly competition of innovative solutions and concepts to discuss and showcase how their propositions can transform the industry and make society better.

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