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IBM Bluemix Hackathon allows NC State students to experiment with emerging technology.

By: John Feller and Spence

Hackathon participants & IBM team

(RALEIGH, NC) - Building on an existing relationship with one of North Carolina's leading institutions of higher learning, NC State University, IBM and the IBM jStart Team conducted a "hackathon" this weekend to leverage student talent on IBM's next generation cloud platform, Bluemix, and to illustrate the ease and power of creating cloud applications on the new platform. Held during November 8 & 9th, the hackathon allowed students from NC State University the opportunity to build applications quickly and easily on the Bluemix platform, while simultaneously providing IBM an opportunity to understand how developers might leverage, utilize, and rely on key services and capabilities that are built into the platform.

NC State students participate in the Hackathon
Stephen Smith, Isaac Musick, Michael Conlon, and Ian Chiles

The NC State University student chapters of the IEEE, and ACM/AITP organizations sponsored the event and seven teams of students competed to create the best Bluemix application. Ian Chiles, a student participant at the Hackathon noted, "I was not expecting to deploy my apps to be that easy. I just pushed out the Python apps and it worked. It was wonderful. It was a breeze to deploy our backend python workers using Bluemix." John Feller, a manager at IBM jStart--and the key organizer of the event--observed that "one of the main reasons for having this event was to introduce students to new technology coming out of IBM and have fun using it. This event also provides the opportunity to learn from the students so that we can continually improve our cloud platform offering."

The winners of the hackathon, Shashank Chandre Gowda, Aaron Pope, and Charles Hensley (members of the Cloud Powered Team), developed an application called SMS4Twitter that allows users to set an alert that monitors tweets from a specific set of users, and looks for keywords the user is interested in real time. If the app finds a match, it'll then send an alert to the user's phone via SMS. The team used pre-built services available on Bluemix to help to rapidly build the application. "It was great to hear all of the innovative ideas from the Hackathon participants. It was exciting to see how quickly the students could take their ideas and implement an application for it," John Feller explained. "When you work with students, you always learn something new."

Dr. Dan Stancil and student Dakota Medd were two of the judges for the event
Dr. Dan Stancil and student Dakota Medd were two of the judges.

Dr. Dan Stancil (chair of the NC State ECE department), and Dr. Mladen Vouk (chair of the NC State Computer Science department), as well as IBM distinguished engineer Bala Rajaraman, all attended the event--and helped to make the event possible. "The close working relationship between IBM and NC State continues to provide invaluable opportunities for students to get real experience with emerging technologies," Dr. Stancil remarked.

NC State Hackathon Champs

The first place winners of the 2013 Bluemix Hackathon @NC State

First Place Winners: Team Cloud Powered - Shashank Chandre Gowda, Charles Hensley, Aaron Pope

Two of our jStart interns who've been working at IBM on Bluemix, Justin Sova and Jon Johnson, also participated in the event. They were able to give the NC State students a unique perspective as academic peers. Both interns are part of jStart's internship program, which is recruiting interns for Spring/Summer of 2014.

With the resounding success of this hackathon, IBM continues to develop, enhance, and extend its technologies. Bluemix, as well as other technologies used in conjunction with the platform, including text analytics/natural language processing, and social data analytics, were all part of the hackathon event. Earlier in the week, the IBM JazzHub team demonstrated the ease of integrating between JazzHub and Bluemix. The event was well attended by NC State students who were interested and enthusiastic about using the technology for the contest, but also potentially with their day-to-day classwork.

jStart team member working with Hackathon students
IBM jStart's Lee Surprenant helps out Hackathon participants

About IBM Bluemix

Bluemix is an open-standards, cloud-based platform for building, managing, and running apps of all types, such as web, mobile, big data, and smart devices. Capabilities include Java, mobile back-end development, and application monitoring, as well as features from ecosystem partners and open source—all provided as-a-service in the cloud. If you'd like to learn more about IBM Bluemix, visit its website at

About IBM jStart

jStart is a highly skilled team focused on providing fast, smart, and valuable business solutions leveraging the latest technologies. As the client engagement team for IBM Emerging Technologies, jStart typically works on emerging technologies which have commercial potential within 12-18 months. This allows the team to keep ahead of the adoption curve, while being prepared for client engagements and partnerships. jStart’s current focus includes: cloud technologies, big data, text analytics, social data analytics, and mobile platforms. Interested to learn more? Visit the jStart website at

2013 NC State/Bluemix
Hackathon Winners

Dr. Dan Stancil, Dr. Mladen Vouk, Dakota Medd, Bala Rajaraman, John Feller

First Place: Cloud Powered
Shashank Chandre Gowda
Charles Hensley
Aaron Pope

Second Place: Unifiid
Ian Chiles
Stephen Smith
Michael Conlon
Isaac Musick

Third Place: Eat, Play, Code
Sujay Narsale
Jinay Mehta
Nabajyoti Patawory
Tapas Senapati
Shayan Sinna

Most Original Idea: Team Alpha
Joseph Wiggins
Alexandria Vail
William Causey

!important: we're taking applications now

Interested in an internship @jStart?

  • Need to be registered full time at college or university for computer related major such as Computer Science or Computer Engineering.
  • Need to be able to work two consectutive terms (Spring + Summer or Summer + Fall) in our Research Triangle Park, NC lab. (We provide a lump sum payment to help cover relocation costs.)
  • Must be able to work legally in the US (US citizen, work visa, etc.)

Interesting Facts

  • Seven teams of students participated
  • Over 30 students registered for the event
  • Event was held at NC State University's College of Engineering building
  • IBM's participation included members of the jStart team, jStart interns, and an IBM Distinguished Engineer
  • Event was attended by department heads for NC State's Departments of Computer Science and Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Three student organizations, NC State's student IEEE and ACM/AITP, sponsored the event.
  • Judges included the head of the CSC and ECE departments, as well as a student judge

Want more information?

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