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Carroll County students get top honors at annual hackathon for app idea to help with mental health

Graham Dodge, left, executive director of MAGIC, poses with the overall winning team of the hackathon, StudentPulse. The team members are, from left, Alana Koh, Erin Nichols, Jon Allen and Isaiah Baptiste.
Graham Dodge, left, executive director of MAGIC, poses with the overall winning team of the hackathon, StudentPulse. The team members are, from left, Alana Koh, Erin Nichols, Jon Allen and Isaiah Baptiste.(Courtesy Photo)

Two Carroll County Public Schools students were overall winners in the annual hackathon hosted by the Westminster-based Mid-Atlantic Gigabit Innovation Collaboratory, or MAGIC.

This past weekend, students from 35 Maryland high schools participated in MAGIC’s fourth annual hackathon, an app design sprint and business pitch competition, according to a MAGIC news release. The competition was held over the course of three days at Carroll Community College.

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According to Graham Dodge, MAGIC’s executive director, the competition involves design thinking and problem solving.

“You come up with a thesis on a problem, you come up with a solution, you test that solution, and you kind of start all over again and see how you kind of iterate quickly to produce the best solution you can for the problem at hand,” Graham said.

The students were judged overall, as well as on pitch, idea, design and technology categories. The overall winners took home a $100 gift card for Amazon along with their trophy.

The overall winners of the competition were the team of Jon Allen from Manchester Valley High School, Isaiah Baptiste from Liberty High School, Alana Koh from Oakdale High School and Erin Nichols from Oakdale High School, according to the release. The team’s idea was for StudentPulse, an app that provides students dealing with a broad spectrum of mental heath issues an anonymous space to ask for help.

According to Dodge, the hackathon was started by MAGIC’s previous executive director, Jason Stambaugh, mostly because there wasn’t really anything like it in the county.

“There was a lack of this kind of format that got kids thinking this way, students that might not otherwise have the opportunity to have that design sprint experience prior to entering the workforce,” Dodge said.

The release listed the other winners as follows:

The best tech winners were Chandler Honeycutt, an online student, Jake Farr from Arundel High School and Devin Johns from Manchester High School. The team’s idea was BitApprentice, an apprenticeship discovery algorithm and tool to help aspiring cybersecurity professionals find their way into the field.

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The best design winners were James Heller and Cheyenne Tarr from Carroll Community College. The team’s idea was Cubboard, which tracks e-receipts at point-of-sale to help track how much food they have, when it will expire and recommended recipes based on what’s in their cupboard.

The best idea winners were Brianna Ingram from Walkersville High School and Abbey Mandl from Carroll Community College. The team’s idea was Opus, an app that tracks your productivity on your smartphone while at work so that employers can offer incentives for their employees to become more productive.

The best pitch winners were Joshua Arruda, Justin Chapin, Connor Strickland and Aaron Washington from McDaniel College. The team’s idea was Cereal, an app that connects students to their university or school’s events and organizations.

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