Cal Poly Graphic Communication Institute

Cal Poly Graphic Communication Students Take Top Prize in Hackathon

A team of Cal Poly graphic communication and art and design students won first place at the university’s recent “Hackathon” event, sponsored by Evernote.

More than 100 students in graphic communication, art and design, engineering, computer science, science and mathematics, business and marketing, architecture and agriculture participated in the 24-hour event, designed to give students a chance to build mobile apps and websites.

Graphic communication students Taylor McIntyre, Brett Itaya, and Will Robbins and art and design major Jenny Michelfelder won first place. Their prizes include Android Nexus tablets and a two-day mentoring session with engineers, designers and marketers at Evernote headquarters in Redwood City, Calif.

The winning team, representing Cal Poly’s College of Liberal Arts, designed Eventuall, a collaborative app to share photo albums in which pictures stream live. The app allows users to upload photos and track them on Facebook.

“The Evernote Hackathon was the most inspiring and exciting event in my 15 years of teaching at Cal Poly,” said Lorraine Donegan, graphic communication professor and coordinator of the event. “I was so impressed with our students and their ability to work through the challenges of building and designing an app in 24 hours.”

The Hackathon took place over a weekend in mid-February. Students first formed teams based on their skill set and ideas and then brainstormed, designed and developed their apps.

Thea Chase, director of the Cal Poly’s Small Business Development Center for Innovation, conducted a “pitch” workshop to help the teams get ready for their two- minute team pitches.

Student developers participated in workshops conducted by Evernote that included iOS, Android and Python development. Workshops were also conducted on front-end design and mobile and tablet development.

Evernote provided expertise throughout the weekend. Chris Traganos, senior web developer at Evernote, brought in a team of developers and product designer and Cal Poly graphic communication alumnus Jason Jones.

Evernote judges reviewed team pitches and awarded nine teams prizes. Three design awards, sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts, were given to teams strictly based on the design of the application’s user interface and user experience. The Cal Poly Library Innovation Prize, sponsored by the Kennedy Library, was awarded to three Art and Design students for their redesign of an existing reservation system for library collaboration rooms.

The Hacker Prize went to the “Totem” team for the best app for technical and intelligent design. The app monitors your sleep and allows you to log your dreams to a journal using the Evernote application. The Community Prize was given to the “Homegrown SLO” team for their app, which raises awareness about specific vendors and products offered by San Luis Obispo County farmers’ markets.

Additional awards were given for the best app built by “younger teams with promise,” comprised primarily of freshmen.

“Having graphic communication students participate in – and win – the Hackathon is particularly relevant in preparing students to enter our industry,” said Harvey Levenson, head of Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Department. “Graphic communication has come to be more than merely printing; it now involves non-print digital imaging such as website development, web publishing, app development and related technologies. At Cal Poly we focus on educating students to understand how to develop and provide these diverse services and integrate them into the printing, publishing, packaging and related graphic arts industry segments.”

Sponsors included the College of Liberal Arts, Library and Computer Engineering Society, and the Kennedy Library.

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