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Hackathon participants seek to develop mobile apps

By KATIE McCARTY | Friday, October 4, 2013


When Notre Dame introduced Innovation Park, a research facility that aims to transform innovations into marketplace ventures, in 2009, it was trying to develop its standing as a research university by commercializing intellectual property. Natalie Gunn-Stahl, the facilities manager at Innovation Park, said the location will do just that today when it hosts its first Hackathon, a 36-hour event in which participants compete to create mobile applications.

 The Hackathon is open not only to coders or designers, but to anyone who wants to participate in the technology-based event.

“People with ideas will pitch them and say what kinds of team members they need – business, marketing, etc.,” Gunn-Stahl said. “If people don’t have an idea, they tell the audience what their skill set is, and then there is an hour or so where people network.”

Participants then form teams and work together to develop their mobile apps, Gunn-Stahl said.

 According to the Park’s website, a panel judges participants equally on the app’s pitch, the originality of the idea and how technically challenging or innovative the app’s implementation is.

Gunn-Stahl said judges award prizes at the end of the competition. “For [Notre Dame] students, there is … an all-expense paid trip to the AT&T foundry in Plano, Texas,” she said. “There are also opportunities to win cash prizes for best user interface, best overall app, etc.”

Gunn-Stahl said the Hackathon is not limited to just Notre Dame students.”We are hoping to get the majority of participants from Notre Dame, but faculty or staff are also welcomed, as well as members of the community,” she said.

This is the first Hackathon hosted at Notre Dame, but Gunn-Stahl said they occur all over the country and even around the world.

“Usually, there are different types of Hackathons,” Gunn-Stahl said. “For example, in Chicago, they opened up public data sets and gave money to people who helped make apps that helped fight crime, help parks and were somehow related to making Chicago a better city.”

Participants in the Innovation Park Hackathon may create an app about any topic they want, but Gunn-Stahl said people will most likely tailor their creations to the criteria of the prizes.

The event begins today at 6 p.m. and stretches until Saturday night, when participants are invited to a tailgate and football game watch, Gunn-Stahl said. Innovation Park will provide food and snacks. It asks participants to bring laptops to the event. 

“We just really encourage people, at least Friday night, to come see what it is all about,” Gunn-Stahl said. “Just come and try it.”

More information about the Hackathon and how to register is available at

Contact Katie McCarty at kmccar16@nd.edu