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A statewide challenge initiated by the Secretary of State’s office, Go Code Colorado brings together programmers and developers, as well as entrepreneurs.


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CMU represents at local Go Code Colorado event

During a hackathon, a number of computer programmers, web designers and others skilled in software development come together to collaborate on new products. These events are intensive, often lasting for several days. On April 10–12, a number of Colorado Mesa University students, alumni and faculty, along with several community members, spent the better part of three days in Grand Junction’s Business Incubator Center participating in a hackathon-like event — Go Code Colorado.

A statewide challenge initiated by the Secretary of State’s office, Go Code Colorado brings together programmers and developers, as well as entrepreneurs. Attendees at events in five cities were challenged to form teams and create a mobile application or website addressing particular issues by using publicly available data.

“Colorado has a huge database and wants it to be used, so it’s trying to build an awareness of all this public data,” said Adam Cochran, a mass communication instructor at CMU who participated. “They’re also trying to encourage organizations to make their data public to say, ‘Look what can happen if you make your data public and it gets used. We can do some really amazing things with it.’”

Senior Michelle Starke poses with the rest of her team, known as Insource Colorado.

Senior Michelle Starke poses with the rest of her team, known as Insource Colorado.

At the Friday evening kickoff, attendees were presented with four challenges the state faces — tourism, higher education, transportation and business intelligence — and tasked with designing a product that uses at least one data set of public information to addresses any aspect of one of these challenges. The products would be judged at the end of the weekend, and the two winning teams would go on to the final level of the competition.

While some teams were formed before the event, many people arrived alone. “I teamed up with a guy I’d never met before,” Cochran said. His partner, Doug Clayton, is a computer programmer who runs an entrepreneurship group in Vail.

For CMU senior Michelle Starke, collaborating with new people was the main appeal of the event. “I enjoyed my experience quite a bit,” she said. “The students who were there had a really good networking opportunity because there were programmers, there were entrepreneurs, business people and people from all over the state.”

According to Cochran, CMU was represented among the bulk of the participants. Alumnus Brian Watson helped organize the event. CMU computer science faculty members Warren MacEvoy, Ram Basnet and Karl Castleton attended, as did assistant business professor Georgann Jouflas. Basnet, MacEvoy and Jouflas formed a team with CMU alumna Chelsea Knoll and Josh Abshear and Mika Costello, two computer science students. Every team had at least one participant affiliated with CMU, Jouflas said.

Given the strong showing from the university community, maybe it isn’t surprising that there was an undercurrent of support despite the competition. Both Cochran and Starke said that although the participants had divided into four teams, most people collaborated with everyone and helped where they could.

jouflas

From left to right, Chelsea Knoll, Warren MacEvoy, Ram Basnet, Mika Costello, Josh Abshear and Georgann Jouflas.

Friday was spent forming groups and brainstorming until 11pm. On Saturday, the teams arrived back at the incubator center at 8am and spent the next 16 hours designing their apps. They were back at in on Sunday morning, and by 5pm they had to be ready to present their projects to the judges — John Maraschin, executive director of the center, and CMU business faculty members Rick Taggart and Tim Hatten.

The apps didn’t have to be perfect by Sunday evening, but they did have to be feasible. They also needed to have a good business model behind them. Cochran’s and Clayton’s app, called GoGo Colorado!, uses the Colorado Department of Transportation’s real-time data and crowdsourced data to let drivers on I-70 know about possible issues and where they can go in a closure. It would also enable businesses along the corridor to offer coupons or other perks for stranded drivers. The team came away with first place.

Jouflas’s team finished in second place. Its product is a social network in which businesses and university faculty can endorse students’ skill sets — something that would come in handy during post-graduation job searches.

On April 24, all 10 winning teams from across the state will travel to Boulder, Colo. to participate in a mentor weekend, where they will learn from and work with leaders in technology, entrepreneurship and government. On May 21, the teams will present their finished, functioning product to a panel of judges in Denver. The winner of the competition will receive $25,000 to make their product a reality.

“I think every team that won is so passionate about their idea that they’ll probably make their idea happen [even if they don’t win],” Cochran said. “We haven’t talked to anyone yet who hasn’t said, ‘I want that app,’ so we have a good feeling that if we don’t win, we’ll at least leave with a stable product that is something that will work on the market.”

A demonstration of the app Cochran and Clayton developed is available at gogoco.rocks

Media Contact

Dana Nunn, Director of Media Relations

dnunn@coloradomesa.edu

970.248.1868 (o)

970.640.0421 (c)