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Preview: Hackathon searches for community solutions

VSU’s STEAM Center for Applied Creativity and Innovation will be home to Azalea Health’s sixth annual Hackathon on Saturday.
The Hackathon is an eight-hour software design competition where teams of up to five participants must design a solution to a problem. The problem is created by the event’s organizers, and the winners will receive a grand prize of $1,000.
Although Azalea specializes in healthcare, the problem can be anything relating to the greater community. Vice President of Infrastructure and Security Dan Henry said the previous year’s problem was similar.
“Last year’s assignment was [to] write an application to encourage the recycling efforts of VSU students and the greater Valdosta community,” he said.
The deadline to register for the Hackathon is Thursday at 5 p.m.

Dan Henry

The competition opens itself to “participants who express an interest in computer science, engineering, or computer design and plan on physically attending the event.”
It is available to high school and college students and is free to participate in. Participants will be granted Wi-Fi access and onsite computers. Food and drinks will also be provided to fuel the creative process.
Make no mistake, participants will need all the energy they can get.
Teams must create all content and software onsite, essentially building a program from the bottom up. Whichever software used is entirely up to the team.
According to Henry, this open-ended approach gives students more freedom and allows them to devise more interesting solutions as opposed to a stricter ruleset.
“We have a wide range of different and creative ideas by having a more open concept,” he said. “The students can literally take the project and run with it in many different directions.”
After the eight hours have elapsed, the judging stage will begin. Teams will present their projects to a panel of judges and will be assigned a standing based on the five-point criteria below:

Design: How easy is it to use?
Functionality: How high-quality is the work?
Originality: How creative is the solution?
Awesomeness: How much of an impact can the solution have in solving the problem?
Presentation: How well did the team communicate with each other and judges?

Once the dust has settled and the scores are in, the third-, second- and first-place teams will be awarded prizes of $250, $500 and $1000, respectively.
Winning some extra cash may be nice, but Henry argues that the real prize is for the community.
“I started this Hackathon as a way to give back to the computer science department and additionally show students that there are options for high-tech jobs in Valdosta,” he said. “It is not always necessary to move to Atlanta to innovative companies.”
Azalea Health was founded by VSU alumni Baha Zeidan, Doug Swords and Dan Henry. They recognized a need for streamlining the healthcare system and, through hard work and talent, created Azalea Health.
The company has since been the recipient of many major awards, including the 2018 MedTech Breakthrough Award for Best EHR Solution, the 2018 FrontRunners Award for Electronic Medical Records and was No. 51 in Inc.’s “Top 100 Georgia Companies” and No. 1,365 on Inc.’s 500/5000 in 2013.
In 2018, it celebrated two consecutive years of being honored on Inc. 5000’s “Fastest Growing Companies in the U.S.”
Participants can register online here.

Story and photo by Patrick Barry, Staff Writer.

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