January 18, 2018

The Catholic University of America School of Engineering will host a “Hackathon” aimed at combating the issue of homelessness on Saturday, Jan. 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Using open source data provided by the Washington, D.C., Department of Human Services, teams consisting of four to six students will be tasked with a specific challenge related to homelessness.

“This is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate their creativity and apply technology in a way that makes a difference,” said John Judge, dean of the School of Engineering. “Engineering at its heart is about solving problems and leveraging technology to improve the human condition. We’re very excited to be working with the District to help address homelessness. We want our students to be thinking globally while giving them chances to act locally.”

The event will open with an interactive panel discussion. Public service leaders will address approaches and challenges related to homelessness in the District and other cities.  The panelists include:

  • Carter Hewgley, senior adviser, Office of the Mayor and the D.C. Department of Human Services
  • Kenyan McDuffie, councilman, District of Columbia Ward Five
  • Christine Washburn, chief marketing officer and senior vice president of Rocket Software

Following the panel discussion, interdisciplinary groups of students will be given a challenge to create a specific tool that could be D.C.’s next step in improving conditions for individuals who are homeless.  

“It’s not enough just to understand technology and code – students need to be able to think creatively to solve real problems for real people,” said Rocket Software CMO Christine Washburn. “Hackathons are a great way for students to get away from their comfort zones and develop new ways of solving critical problems. We are so excited to be part of this event because the participants are actually creating new approaches that are going to directly benefit the most vulnerable population in our society.”

The grand prize will be an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset given to each member of the winning team.

The Hackathon is open to students from all local colleges and universities. Participants can register as individuals or as teams.

Catholic University students who compete will also be considered to represent the University at the Vatican’s first-ever Hackathon in Rome this spring.

The event is presented in collaboration with the Washington, D.C., Department of Human Services, Code for DC, and DataKind. Rocket Software is sponsoring the competition. For more information and to view a full schedule, visit the event website.

MEDIA: Reporters who wish to cover the competition must contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at communications@cua.edu or 202-319-5600.