Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Information systems club shines at civic hacking competition

The Information Systems Association of KU, known as IS@K, is making waves in the Kansas City technology community with its recent success at a civic hacking event.

The 24-hour Hack of the Sexes competition took place April 26 and 27 at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, sponsored by a number of Kansas City technology companies, including Sprint, and the city of Kansas City, Mo.

Civic hackers are designers, artists, engineers and other tech professionals who collaborate to create open source solutions to challenges facing local communities, cities and states. Some of the civic issues highlighted at the event included environmental sustainability, education and citizen engagement.

KU IS@K member focuses on Hack of the Sexes competition
“Hack of the Sexes combined groups of people with different talents – graphic design, programming, business – in an effort to build a website or application that solves a civic problem,” said Michael Luchen, senior information systems major and IS@K president. “Participants were able to gain real-world experience in solving community challenges through tech solutions while learning from experts in the Kansas City tech community.”

KU IS@K participants in the “hackathon” divided into separate teams, working with students and professionals outside of KU, to increase the club’s visibility and gain networking opportunities.

Frank Dillon, a KU information systems major and IS@K member, pitched the Feed the Meter app, which uses smartphone technology to allow people to pay for parking meters.

“The participants were so impressed with Frank’s idea of a parking meter app that he actually got to lead his own team to create the product,” Luchen said.

Information systems student Pratik Gadhia was also on the Feed the Meter team, and posed the idea of integrating QR codes into the concept. Chad Kozicki, a KU IS@K member, was part of the PlanIT KC team, which devised an app that allows city developers to understand the value of environmentally focused design.

IS@K board member Scott Howell III was on the grand-prize winning team, which created The Giveback, an app that allows charities to connect with citizens interested in volunteer opportunities. The app will launch summer 2013.

For more information on IS@K, connect with the student club on Facebook and Twitter.