Macalester held its first-ever “hackathon” last weekend. Eight student teams were given approximately 24 hours to develop a new tech-enabled product or service and present it in 10 minutes to a panel of six alumni judges. First place went to Good Thinkin’—Michael Abramson ’15, Jesse Russell ’14, David Melms ’13, Cole Callahan ’14, Mitchell Kutis ’14, and Ben Hillmann ’15—for their publish-to-tablet service Reazy.Second place went to Untried Case for Meerkat Mob, a new way for people to expand their social circles. Third place went to two teams: King Crab Legs for an online financial planning system and Guardsmen for their business loyalty service.Inspired by a conversation between Per von Zelowitz ’94 and Seth Levine ’94, the Macathon was a way for students to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in an engaging, hands-on way.

“A traditional hackathon is focused only on computer programers who are developing some sort of application  or program over a 24 hour period,” said Per in a Saturday morning interview with KSTP-TV (Minneapolis). “At Macalester, we’ve tried to expand the concept to include people who have engineering skills and computer programming skills but also other students who might come from an economics background or other backgrounds that are still relevant for building a product or app.”

Students were invited to register their 3 to 6 person teams in December. A list of faculty, staff, and alumni mentors were also provided to the students, a handful of whom were available onsite throughout the contest. In addition to Per, the six alumni judges were Josh Aas ’05, Mark Abbott ’96, Steve Arnold ’72, Peter Pascale ’94, and David Sielaff ’90, all of whom have backgrounds in entrepreneurship, technology, or venture capital. These alumni have offered to continue working with interested  student teams in continuing to develop their projects.

We thank all eight of our Macathon teams for their hard work and innovation during the contest. It was a truly inspirational event.

February 13 2013