March 02, 2018
Hackathon team members

Five students will represent The Catholic University of America during the first-ever Vatican-sponsored hackathon, taking place March 8-11 in Rome. Throughout the weekend, student teams will use technological innovation and creative thinking to engineer high-tech solutions in three theme areas: social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and migrants and refugees.

Speaking on the hackathon, dubbed VHacks, Pope Francis said, “How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion.”

The Catholic University team is comprised of Vy Bui, who is earning her doctorate in electrical engineering; Van Lam, who is earning her doctorate in biomedical engineering; Emma Flanagan, a sophomore studying business and marketing; LeQuan Clinton, a master’s student in architecture and planning; and Michael Monaghan, a senior studying computer science.

The students were selected after participating in a University-sponsored hackathon in January. That hackathon, which was organized by the School of Engineering in collaboration with the D.C. Department of Human Services, challenged students to develop a program or system using data science and engineering to improve the living conditions of people experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C.

John Judge, dean of the engineering school, said hackathons like VHacks are a valuable learning experience for students, allowing them to find new applications for knowledge they have gained in the classroom.

“I think our students are always looking for ways that they can apply their education to solve real problems,” Judge said. “If you’re in the classroom learning an equation or method, it can be dry at times. To have a chance to take that knowledge and use it to help people, I think that’s really compelling.”

MEDIA: To schedule an interview with students attending the Vatican Hackathon, contact the Office of Marketing and Communications at or 202-319-5600.