Civitas Learning 2015 Hackathon


Share this Post

Students Brought their Best in First Student Success Hackathon

Students from across the U.S. joined team members and guest judges at the Civitas Learning headquarters on February 7 and 8 to participate in the first Civitas Learning Student Success Hackathon.

Participants had 24 hours to develop an application or tool that solves a specific problem within higher education, improves the education experience, and directly impacts student success.

The Challenge

Students met the challenge set by Civitas Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, Mark Milliron who said, “Quality learning often pushes you – and pushes you hard. The time, energy, and money spent developing innovations aren’t intended to make learning easy, but rather to ease students’ journeys. At their best, they bring learning to life in new and compelling ways and make an often-impenetrable higher education system easier to navigate.” The apps the winners built inherently showcased their team’s definition of student success.

Watch this video to see the behind the scenes action at Hackathon.

The Winners

  • The $3,000 prize for first place was awarded to students from Penn State University who built “Project Lady Bird,” an app that allows students to design their own course path by revealing courses that match their personal interests, and cross-referencing with courses that are required to fulfill their degree program.
  • Second place was awarded to “Construct,” a website that matches students based on skills they have or want to develop in a project-based learning setting.
  • Third place was awarded to “Shame,” an app that applied tough love and financial math to encourage students into going to class.

The Judges/Coaches


Sean Duffy, EdTech Austin, Pearson Catalyst for Education

Sean is an educator and edtech leader who is passionate about helping to make meaningful change in education through technology. Sean is the founder of EdTech Austin and the lead Organizer for Startup Weekend and Startup Weekend Education for Austin, Texas. Currently, Sean is an Assessment Specialist with Pearson Education and Startup Mentor/Advisor for Pearson Catalyst for Education. Follow @dearmrduffy on Twitter.


Phil Komarny, Robots and Pencils, Inc.

Phil is an award-winning senior executive and mobile/social tech innovator. He heads up the U.S. operations of Robots and Pencils, an app development company known for its top-ranking consumer apps, transformative enterprise apps and gamified learning platforms. Most recently, Robots and Pencils has been recognized for their work with the University of Texas System’s Institute for Transformational Learning where they are developing a student centered learning platform that will deliver personalized, adaptive educational programming and support services at scale, also for the creation of PencilCase, an iOS app maker and publisher that does not require coding. Follow @PhilKomarny on Twitter.


Taylor Barnett, HackTX, RealMassive

Taylor Barnett is a self-proclaimed taco expert and hacker at heart who has been the lead organizer of HackTX for the past two years. She is currently a senior at The University of Texas at Austin studying Computer Science. Taylor is a co-founder of the Discovery Fund, a grant based fund for UT student startups, one of the early members and event hosts of the Women Who Code Austin meetup, Girls Who Code Club volunteer instructor, and hack night organizer at UT. Taylor currently works at RealMassive as a part time Full Stack Developer. Follow @taylor_atx on Twitter.


Dave Kil, Civitas Learning

Dave is Chief Data Scientist at Civitas Learning overseeing the development of insight and action analytics, leveraging salient concepts from multiple disciplines. Prior to joining Civitas, Dave was the Chief Scientist at Humana, building predictive models and outcomes analytics algorithms that fed into the corporate insight engine. He also helped build various informatics applications and platforms, dealing with sensor networks including smartphones, social networks, CEP-based user engagement, adaptive messaging, and real-time outcomes analytics in Silicon Valley. He holds 9 US and international patents and is the author of a book on pattern recognition and prediction by Springer-Verlag.


Laura Malcolm, Civitas Learning

As Vice President of Product Management, Laura drives product vision and user-interface design. Laura is passionate about helping others improve their lives through education. She began her career as a high school teacher in Austin and through that experience discovered her deep interest in designing tools to help people learn. Prior to Civitas Learning, she spent ten years in executive leadership roles directing the design and development of innovative Educational Technology products. Laura is a two-time CODiE award recipient for product design.

The Student Experience

Students expressed their enjoyment working side-by-side with the Civitas team and judges. Read what winners from Penn State had to say in this story.

View the photo album from Hackathon on the Civitas Learning Facebook page here.


Related Posts

« »