A foursome of Glendale-area high school and college students earned first place at the Valley Hackathon IV Friday at the Glendale Central Library Auditorium.
Glendale Community College’s William Lee and Sharon Yi, Clark Magnet High School’s Mary Yenokyan and a student who identified himself as Nathan M. from Glendale High took home first place by securing 71 of a possible 78 points.
Engagement was the goal and challenge given to close to 100 high school and college participants. Besides the three local schools involved, students also came from other schools such as Santa Monica College, Cal State Fullerton and Granada Hills Charter School.
Eighteen teams were given four hours to create a mobile application or website that would allow Glendale residents to easily connect with city leaders, find emergency alerts and receive notifications about city happenings and general information about the city.
Some of the issues teams faced included cybersecurity, business and employee concerns as well as best practices for contacting the public.
Teams then presented five-minute proposals about their projects in front of a three-person panel.
The winning quartet created a mobile app called “Glendale Connect” that provided information about events happening in the next few months, easy contacts to several hotlines, notifications of emergencies and a community forum to discuss issues.
“Honestly, I was kind of surprised because I came into today expecting really just to participate and not looking to win,” Lee said. “We worked really hard and got to know each other quickly, brainstormed an idea, made a prototype and then got going.”
While a few groups were made up of students from the same schools, the members of most groups didn’t know each other.
“It was exciting to get to talk to new people,” Yenokyan said. “For our group, we had a feeling we’d have a chance, but I liked how everyone took part in the development.”
Clark Magnet students were the largest contingent of any school, with 34 participants. At least one Clark Magnet student was on the first-, second- and third-place teams.
Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan was one of the judges choosing the winners.
“It was exciting today, and I love hearing young minds at work and doing things that I can’t do, honestly,” Sinanyan said. “This is my second Hackathon, and I was impressed with what I saw.”
The competition was sponsored by the Valley Economic Alliance, a nonprofit private-public collaboration consisting of interests from the cities of Glendale, Burbank, Calabasas, San Fernando and Los Angeles.
Though the contest was open to all students, competitors needed a specialized set of skills.
“We recruit high school and college students interested in coding, information technology, computer science, graphic design, marketing, communications, mobile application design development, and website design and development from schools in the San Fernando Valley and beyond,” said Angela Amirkhanian, Hackathon coordinator and senior economic and workforce development coordinator for the Valley Economic Alliance.
First-place, runner-up and third-place finishers will have the opportunity to revise and hone their presentations so that they can demonstrate their websites or apps in front of the Glendale City Council at a future date.
“I am always astonished at the creativity, confidence and level of expertise of the participants,” Amirkhanian said.