Student-led Manage-A-Hack event gains international attention

Students with ECU’s chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) are being celebrated internationally for creating a new event that received plenty of interest and support.

Manage-A-Hack took place Nov. 11 with the idea of bringing business and computer science students together to create and present Minimum Viable Product ideas to solve problems. More than 30 students participated, and the event received acclaim in ACM’s international newsletter.

More than 30 students formed interdisciplinary teams to create products to solve problems during Manage-A-Hack. (Contributed photo)

“The purpose of the event is to increase exposure to computer science and to showcase that computer science touches practically every discipline,” said Xiaoli Mao, teaching instructor in the Department of Computer Science and the faculty advisor for ACM.

ACM collaborated with the Society for Advancement of Management student organization in the College of Business for the event. Participants formed interdisciplinary teams, each of which was tasked with creating a solution to a problem by producing a startup idea, curating a business proposal and developing a working prototype for presentation to a panel of judges.

The five-hour event, hosted in the Isley Innovation Hub, aimed to close the gap between business and technology by introducing students to problem-solving approaches through the lens of a complementary discipline. Further, the event showcased how the fields of business and computer science can collaborate to complete projects.

“The event was a big success,” Mao said. “It encouraged the passion of the students and showed them how they can help society be a better place with their knowledge.”

Dr. Cody Logan Chullen, associate dean for academic quality in the College of Business, and Dr. Nic Herndon, graduate program director for the Department of Computer Science in the College of Engineering and Technology, served as judges for the event. They listened to an array of presentations including ideas for using business and technology to increase rural access to the internet, to increase campus safety and to promote health and well-being in eastern North Carolina, among others. Prizes were awarded for best overall presentation, best business pitch and best programming.

Like Mao, Chullen emphasized the collaboration of business and computer science, noting that Manage-a-Hack was an important extension of classroom experiences for students.

“These activities positively impact our students by stimulating their creativity, improving their communication, teamwork and leadership skills, and developing their interests and talents,” Chullen said. “As part of our new strategic plan, we seek to increase the number of our graduates with significant co-curricular experiences. Bridging the classroom with these experiences fulfills the mission of ECU to foster student success and regional transformation.”

With such a successful outcome of the first Manage-A-Hack, plans are for the event to become annual.