More than 300 college and high school students from across the nation had their hands full at Northern Virginia Community College’s (NOVA) Woodbridge campus this weekend.
The third annual Innovation Hackathon event was held at the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET), according to a release.
The 36-hour competition offered various challenges that focused on developing applications, data visualization, information assurance and secure programming.
Teams who placed first, second and third won an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, an HP Chromebook 14 G5, and an Amazon Echo.
Seven students received a $1,000 Hackathon award from the event’s sponsors.
Kenneth Fritzsche from the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) — which is within the National Protection and Programs Directorate — served as the Hackathon’s keynote speaker.
He asked students to explore career options in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
“STEM is more than just learning about science, technology, engineering and math courses, it’s also about learning how to think critically and become a problem solver,” Fritzsche said in a release. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there will be a 73 percent increase of STEM career growth in the next seven years, with a focus in computer-related fields. This is your time to focus on what you want your career and future to look like after you complete your education.”
Several cybersecurity experts, including Picasso Global Technology Solutions Owner Stacey Lee-Curbean and Information Technology and Cybersecurity Specialist Marvin Marin, also spoke with participants.
Students had an opportunity to explore careers at a job fair held on Saturday.
Hassan Imtiaz, a student at NOVA’s Woodbridge campus, participated in the Innovation Hackathon for the first time this year.
“A few of my classmates who attended in previous years had mentioned how much they enjoyed participating and having the opportunity to network with corporate businesses and professionals,” Imtiaz said in a release.
Imtiaz has been interested in computers since childhood.
“When I moved to the U.S. in 2015 from Pakistan and later enrolled at NOVA, I knew I wanted to study IT, and so far I’ve already learned so much from the program,” Imtiaz said. “Events like the Hackathon only enhances my skills and ability to network with the right people to excel my career.”
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