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NOVA-Woodbridge students organize nationwide inNOVAtion hackathon at Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training

Students from various colleges and universities across the county gathered on the Woodbridge Campus of Northern Virginia Community College to participate in a hackathon event organized by five NOVA cybersecurity and information technology students. The event was held at the Regional Center for Workforce Education and Training (RCWET) on April 8-10.

inNOVAtion, a 36 hour long hackathon competition offered hands-on experience to students interested in cybersecurity and secure coding methods. Participants came prepared for the weekend with sleeping bags and overnight items, eager to work in teams to “hack” several challenges provided by corporate sponsors True IA, General Dynamics, University of Maryland University College, Rapid Cycles Solutions, (ISC)² and RPI Group. The challenges involved creating apps and successfully programming data for first-, second-and third-place teams to win an iPod Shuffle, Galaxy Tablet, Playstation 4 and a host of gift cards and certificates.

Thomas Mitchell, NOVA-Woodbridge student and president of the inNOVAtion hackathon team initiated the idea to host the event after he attended a hackathon at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). Mitchell, along with NOVA students Chris Dabo, Rizvan Rashik, Zach Wood and Ibrar Tariq, shared their plans with NOVA-Woodbridge faculty Dr. Evette Davis, dean of business and social sciences and Dr. Paula Ford, assistant dean of information technology to help bring their vision into reality.  

“When I went to the hackathon RamHacks in Richmond last year, it was such a great experience that I said to myself if they can do it, we can too,” Mitchell said. “After that, I began placing together students who were dedicated to making the NOVA student hackathon experience a fantastic one. For the past seven months, our team worked very hard to make this event as professional as possible.”

“We also noticed that most universities were jumping on board with hosting hackathons,” he added. “As a group, we wanted to get NOVA's name out there for college students to consider attending an event like this at a community college rather than opting to register at a four-year university. We even had a student from Chicago registered to attend our hackathon.”

Keynote speakers Dr. Ray Letteer, U.S. Marine Corps senior information security official (SISO) and Steven Covey, True IA managing director provided insight on the ethical and moral responsibilities of cybersecurity/IT professionals. In addition to the competition, highly-trained cybersecurity experts spoke to 50 high school students on topics involving computer science and information technology through “Tech Talks.”

NOVA President Dr. Scott Ralls said the purpose of the hackathon strategically fits into the College’s role having been named the 2014-2015 most digital community college in the United States.

“NOVA is one of the top cybersecurity and IT community colleges in the country,” Ralls said. “In the last year, our cybersecurity program has grown from having 56 students to now 744. We are proud to be NOVA. As a technology driven community college, we rank number two in producing IT associate degree graduates in the nation. inNOVAtion is only the first of many hackathons we hope to host at NOVA.”

For more on NOVA’s Cybersecurity and IT programs, the Regional Center for Workforce Development and Training or on NOVA’s Workforce Development programs, visit http://www.nvcc.edu.

Media Contact: Kristina Ogburn | 703.503.6338 | kogburn@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.