Computer science student wins awards at Midwest “hackathon” competition

Muhannad Alnemer, a sophomore computer science major, took home two awards from the RevolutionUC (RevUC) Hackathon in April.

Muhannad Alnemer

Muhannad Alnemer

The regional competition, hosted by the University of Cincinnati, is open to students from throughout the Midwest. Students are given 36 hours to create web or mobile applications or other programs. 

Alnemer was among a group of students from universities across the Midwest whose web app, Gexture, won best user interface. The project also won third place for IBM Best Use of Watson Internet of Things Platform on BlueMix.

It’s the first time a University of Indianapolis student has won an award at RevUC. Another computer science student, junior Hussain Alhassan, also took part in the competition.

Gexture detects American Sign Language gestures through Leap Motion and outputs corresponding letters. The students were inspired by IBM’s development platform, which offers a text-to-speech feature.

“Since we are using gesture control, it’s only logical to use it to benefit the ASL community with our application,” Alnemer explained.

Paul Talaga, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science, encouraged his students to attend the event, which he started as a faculty member at the University of Cincinnati before joining the University of Indianapolis.

“Due to the short time span, students put together pieces of code or existing services into a larger project.  This is where the ‘hack’ comes in: putting together things that normally wouldn’t be used together, into something useful,” Talaga said.

“Hackathons are a great place to meet other students at different universities, learn about other programming techniques, make industry contacts, and try their hand at building something useful in a short amount of time, much like what is done in industry,” he said.

“Working on this project helped me gain effective team-working skills, and adapt to how quickly projects might shift focus,” Alnemer said.

Alnemer has worked with Talaga on the University’s robotics team and in a cloud computing course, and cites him as a strong influence in his decision to participate in the Hackathon. Those experiences “gave me base knowledge that I was able to build off of,” Alnemer explained.

Talaga pointed out that that these types of competitions are becoming prime locations for employers seeking to hire tech-minded candidates.

Learn more about Gexture here.

Written by Sara Galer, Senior Communications Specialist, University of Indianapolis. Contact newsdesk@UIndy.edu with your campus news.