‘WhatUEatin’ Won Big at The 2nd Annual UVI Hackathon at St. Croix

Featured Image: Dr. Tim Faley and Team McKrigger after they were presented with the “Best Hack” $500 check and a certificate for 40 hours of free mentoring from NEARiX. 

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The Hackathon 2016 T-shirt design.

Alicia Taylor |

ST. CROIX – Imagine getting paid to bring your crazy ideas to life. The UVI Hackathon allowed students to do just that.

The 2nd annual Hackathon to be held on St. Croix took place September 9th and 10th in the Albert A. Sheen Campus Library. Thanks to NEARiX LLC, UVI’s Research and Technology Park (RTP) and Virgin Islands Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (VI-EPSCoR), UVI Innovation Design and Entrepreneurship Association (UVIDEA), students competed for $700 in cash prizes and a $100 UVI bookstore certificate.

In a 24-hour span, students broke into teams to develop an app that reflected the year’s theme of health and wellness. UVI Distinguished Professor and Special Assistant to the President, Tim Faley, instructed students to create an app that they would personally use.

The students took that advice and ran with it. They saw a problem and came up with a solution to solve it in the form of an application for cell phones.

However, of the four teams competing, there could only be one grand prize winner.

Team “MacKrigger” took home the title of “Best Hack,” as well as a certificate for 40 hours of free mentoring from NEARiX to expand on their idea, an estimated total value of $5,000, and the $500 cash prize.

Mackenzie Gross, a freshman business major, and Amali Krigger, a senior computer science major, created an app that would provide healthier food alternatives for those who wanted to stick to their cultural tastes.

“We came up with this idea because the biggest part of being healthy is eating healthy,” Gross said.

“We look forward to continuing on with our app and making it a reality… It truly helps that NEARiX gave us mentors to help us along the way,” Krigger said.

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Terrance Emmanuel, Leanne Morancie, and Geron Richards receiving the $100 check for the most innovative hack from Leon Hughes, founder and CEO of NEARiX.

Other winners included Terrance Emmanuel, Leanne Morancie, and Geron Richards for the most innovative hack; Alicia Taylor, Kaheem Thomas, Kalunda Cuffy and Tijani Shabazz for most impactful hack; and Yolanda Felix-Medina and Khadijah O’Neill for the VI-EPSCoR $100 certificate.

“The most valuable thing I took from this experience is that I feel I can see things in a different perspective, in terms of accomplishing a problem,” said Tijani Shabazz, a sophomore computer science major who won the hackathon last year. Although he did not win the “Best Hack” this year, Shabazz expressed he looks forward to competing next year and bringing his new ideas to life.

The Hackathon pushed students to go beyond their comfort zones, think outside of the box and use teamwork to accomplish and solve a problem many face in regards to health and wellness.

“We hope you have done something here that has a positive effect on the rest of your time here,” said Leon Hughes, founder and CEO of NEARiX.

Judging by the Hacks the teams created, the Hackathon did just that.

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