A “hackathon” competition at Howard University and other
HBCU is highlighting the building of applications as a means for helping to
increase the number of Black technology entrepreneurs.
At Howard, the Department of Systems and Computer Sciences
hosted more than 20 students developing mobile computing application in 24
hours in the Black Founders Startup Ventures hacking competition Feb. 15-16,
2013. Black Founders Startup Ventures is a San Francisco-based group whose
mission is to increase the number of successful Black entrepreneurs in
technology, part of a national “HBCU Hacks” campaign.
Hadiyah Mujhid, Black Founders Startup Ventures co-founder,
says the campaign aims to expose students to hacking competitions to help them
feel more comfortable developing software to solve problems. “We believe that
increasing the amount of students at Black colleges hacking and building
applications will ultimately increase the number of Black tech entrepreneurs,”
A team of three Howard systems and computer science
students, senior Antonio McMichael and juniors Jeremy Blackstone and Nigel
Randall, took the top coveted prize, besting six other teams by working
throughout the night to create an app that enables users to locate small and
obscure buildings in urban settings. The app provides users with real-time data
that improves cellular GPS capability.
“They may have created another way to market to people
through augmented reality,” says Legand Burge III, chairman of the Department
of Systems and Computer Sciences, of the three who won a $500 grand prize. “I’m
surprised they got it done in 24 hours.”
Judges included representatives from Facebook and Microsoft.
Burge said such events would help fill the “significant void in the presence of
African-American technology entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and across the