St. Paul, Minn. – Macalester is holding its second Macathon, a mash-up of a computer hackathon and a business start-up competition 4:00 p.m., Fri., Feb. 28, ending at 7:30 p.m. Sat., March 1.

Macalester students have formed teams of three-six participants to compete for over $2,000 in prize money, donated by two Macalester alumni. The three teams that come up with the most innovative tech-enabled product or service for either the commercial or nonprofit sector win. 

A traditional hackathon is a contest where computer programmers and other technologists compete to improve, break, build, and create new systems.  A start-up competition is an event where entrepreneurs, inventors, and design-thinkers compete to come up with new and disruptive ventures.  Macathon puts the two concepts together in one event.

Macalester’s Macathon challenges student teams to put their liberal arts education into action and invent a new product or service (website, interactive application, mobile app) that solves a real-world and relevant problem or is just flat-out cool. To succeed, Macathon teams need a mix of technical, business, design, communication and general creative skills.

What will happen
From 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28, to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 1, 12 teams of Macalester students will compete for cash prizes and the opportunity for feedback from successful alumni entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors.

The Judges
Macalester alumni judges are entrepreneurs, technologists, and investors:

Josh Aas ’05 – Engineering Manager, Mozilla Corporation
Aas double-majored in English and computer science at Macalester before joining Mozilla to code on the then-young Firefox web browser. Since then he’s worked in various roles including engineering management, web standards development, partner relations, security, and technology strategy.

Roya Ansari ’83 – Director, Sales and Business Development, Silicon Expert Technologies
Ansari is director of Sales and Business Development for Silicon Expert Technologies, a Santa Clara component data and supply-chain management company. A political science major at Macalester, she has over 30 years of experience with high-tech businesses and her own start-up companies.

Steve Arnold ’72 – Co-Founder and Partner Emeritus, Polaris Partners, Polaris Ventures
Prior to founding Polaris as a venture capital firm in 1996, Arnold had senior executive positions at Microsoft, LucasArts, LucasFilm and Continuum (now Corbis) Corporation. With George Lucas, he is a co-founder of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. He also serves on the boards of several other education-related non-profit organizations.

D. Christian (Chris) Koch ’87 – Group President, Diversified Products, Carlisle Companies, Inc.
Prior to Group President position at Carlisle, Koch held a variety of positions at Carlisle, Graco and H.B. Fuller, including a six-year posting in China managing Asia Pacific business for Carlisle and Graco.

Paul L.H. Olson ’72 – Executive Advisor; Corporate Board Member
A Macalester trustee, Olson is currently board chair of Entegris, a board director at Liaison Technologies, the company that acquired nuBridges when he was their President and CEO, and other corporate and non-profit boards. He has corporate executive as well as start-up experience in the technology field, and in addition, has been both a college administrator and an NFL football player.

Peter Pascale ’94 – Director, Product Strategy and Architecture, Pearson VUE
With over 15 years experience in software development, Pascale guides product and technology investment for Pearson VUE, a global testing and educational certification provider.

Kate Ryan Reiling ’00 – Founder, Morphology Games; Product Department Manager, InBoxDollars
Ryan Reiling launched Morphology, a word/board game, in 2009. In 2013, she licensed the Morphology Games portfolio, which includes a junior version and an iPhone app, to PlaSmart, Canada’s leading toy and game company, and took a product manager position with a Minneapolis start-up.

David Sielaff ’90 – Principal Lead Software Engineer, Microsoft Corporation
Key software engineer on program analysis software used on critical Microsoft projects, including Windows, Office, Xbox and SQL, and is a co-holder of multiple patents. He was the chief software architect at Intrinsa, a startup acquired by Microsoft. In addition, Sielaff is an angel investor and advisor to technology startups.

Per von Zelowitz ’94 – Founder and CEO, Cowri
A former Macalester trustee, von Zelowitz has over a decade of experience as a venture investor in digital media, communications, enterprise software and consumer software and service spaces. He is the chief event judge and, along with Seth Levine ’94, generated the Macathon concept.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,011 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at

Who:  12
 Macalester student teams
What:  Macalester’s Macathon
When:  Fri., Feb.28 – Sat., March 1, beginning at 4:00 p.m.
Where: Olin-Rice Science Center
Best time to go: Sat., at 3 p.m. when the participating teams present to the judges in Olin-Rice Room 250. Winning teams will be announced at 7:15 p.m. Presentations and awards will be streamed live at

Contact:  Barbara K. Laskin, Macalester media relations, 651-399-3252

February 18 2014

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