North Central College computer science students served as featured speakers at a recent Open Gov Hack Night in downtown Chicago. They presented a web application they had developed as part of their capstone seminar project with Caroline St. Clair, professor of computer science. The students designed their app for Englewood Codes, an initiative that helps Chicago’s Englewood area teens learn about computer science.
Hack Night is a weekly gathering that highlights projects using publically available data from the City of Chicago. The North Central group had developed the app as an open source project so others could freely use it. “Even before the Hack Night presentation was over, members of the audience were downloading our app,” said St. Clair. The audience included programmers, web developers, researchers, and others with an interest in civic development and public policy.
Englewood Codes does not have the resources to buy computers, so participating teens cannot save their work on hard drives. The North Central team’s new app enables them to save on the Internet. Three Englewood students visited campus in the spring to meet with the North Central team and learn how to use the application.
Mike Holler ’14, a computer science major, served as project manager and lead developer. “This was a great opportunity to design a project based on the needs of a client and then to lead a group of people to actually get it done,” he says. “It was a phenomenal experience.” Holler is already putting those skills to good use; he has been hired to work as lead mobile application engineer for PhysIQ (formerly VG-Bio).