Oglethorpe Senior Racks Up Hackathon Wins

IMG_8825Haider Khan ’15 doesn’t exactly fit the hacker stereotype. But, the Oglethorpe senior, who’s majoring in chemistry and minoring in computer science, recently bested the competition to win two back-to-back hackathons, as well as a start-up competition, all hosted in metro Atlanta. A testament to Haider’s skills and training, the victories have also been lucrative. So far, Haider and his teammates have won a total of $13,300 in cash and prizes.

In layman’s terms, a hackathon is a competition, usually lasting several days, in which groups of developers and other experts collaborate in computer programming to solve a given issue or challenge. The events typically are kicked off with an introduction to the sponsoring companies and a presentation about challenge the competitors will tackle. The sponsoring companies then give the developers access to their technology to create their solution.

Haider’s first competition was the AT&T Mobile App Hackathon, which focused on real public safety issues. Atlanta emergency medical responders, police officers, dispatchers, fire and rescue teams were onsite to discuss with the developers the challenges they encounter in their jobs. In response, Haider and his team built a hybrid mobile-web app called Safety Net to assist EMS responders in large scale disasters by tracking personnel in real time. They were awarded 1st place in Best Overall Public Safety App, 1st place in Best Use of AT&T’s WebRTC API, and 2nd place in Best Use of Telerik Technology.

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Haider (left) with his one of his Charge Forward teammates after their big win.

The next hackathon, for interactive wearable financial apps, was sponsored by Global Payments Inc. and CaixaBank in Barcelona. “At the second hackathon, the theme was wearables,” Haider explained, “so we were given smart watches and were told to come up with novel solutions to five challenges, ranging from ease of payment, user authentication, security, alternative payments, and design for payment services and transactions.” Haider and his team Charge Forward were awarded the $10,000 3rd prize for their smartwatch application that lets the user change credit card payment method with the flick of a wrist and uses NFC technology to process transactions on the spot.

Most recently, Haider competed in Atlanta Startup Weekend, hosted at Coca-Cola Company headquarters. Teams pitched startup ideas to judges (and an audience) and were evaluated on customer empathy (did their idea address a real problem for real people?), execution (did it work?), and their business model (how would it successfully compete in the market?). Haider’s team, GatherCam, pitched their idea and business plan for a program that would compile photos posted on various social media sites by different people at the same event, such as a wedding. Their idea was a true crowd pleaser and won over the judges, earning them 1st place in judge’s scores, as well as the audience choice award.

Haider (second from left) with his GatherCam teammates during the Atlanta Startup Weekend at Coca-Cola.

Haider (second from left) with his GatherCam teammates during the Atlanta Startup Weekend at Coca-Cola.

After graduation, Haider hopes to continue his efforts in creating innovative technology. He plans to move to California to work in Silicon Valley and eventually to start his own technology company. Haider is confident that the knowledge he’s gained while pursuing his education at Oglethorpe, particularly his minor in computer science, has helped him significantly in his recent accomplishments.

“I highly suggest to Oglethorpe students that if they have a passion for technology to take a computer science minor,” Haider advises. “I personally think the tech industry is extremely fun to work in (and) the applications are endless. We are moving into an economy where knowing how technology works is a currency.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Awards Grant to Support Oglethorpe’s Core Curriculum

IMG_4685The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has selected Oglethorpe University to receive a sizable three-year grant to support “Explorations in the Core,” an initiative to evaluate and implement innovations in the Oglethorpe Core curriculum.  The grant is awarded through the foundation’s Liberal Arts Colleges Program.

Oglethorpe’s award-winning, groundbreaking core curriculum has been a unifying academic experience for all students since its inception seventy years ago. The Oglethorpe Core is a sequential four-year general education program deeply rooted in the liberal arts tradition, and has been recognized by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and funded twice by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The “Explorations in the Core” program will enable Oglethorpe faculty to pilot variations of standard courses by testing new methods, texts, and pedagogies. The grant from the Mellon Foundation will directly support resources for planning, creating, and implementing the new courses.

“The Mellon Foundation grant will allow Oglethorpe to preserve our Core’s fundamentals, while incorporating new ideas, approaches, and perspectives,” said Dr. Charles Baube, professor of biology and director of the Oglethorpe Core. “Our goal is to ensure that this rigorous, interdisciplinary course of study in the arts and sciences remains relevant and continues to be a model for liberal arts instruction in the 21st century.”

“This initiative is critical to the ongoing development of the Oglethorpe Core, and builds on seven decades of delivering an interdisciplinary education program that is at the heart of our university,” said Oglethorpe President Lawrence M. Schall. “While the Core has evolved significantly over time, its goals have largely remained the same:  to educate our students to make not only a good living, but an enriching life and a significant difference in their communities.”

 

“Gables Oglethorpe” Residential Community to Open in 2015

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Oglethorpe University and Gables Residential, Inc., a real estate development company headquartered in Atlanta, have partnered to construct Gables Oglethorpe, a mixed-use luxury apartment community at the corner of Peachtree Road and Hermance Drive. Gables Residential will lease approximately seven acres of land from the university via a long-term land lease agreement, and will construct, operate, and maintain the new mixed-use community. Gables Oglethorpe will offer a new, convenient luxury apartment option for students and those desiring to live near Buckhead, Midtown and the Perimeter center area.

Projected to be Earthcraft certified, Gables Oglethorpe is designed by Atlanta-based architects Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio and will reflect and complement the signature Gothic architecture of Oglethorpe’s historic campus, set to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015. Groundbreaking is estimated for summer 2014, with anticipated occupancy to begin August 2015. The community will combine apartment living for all with the unique niche of a community park and green space, state-of-the-art classrooms, secure parking, and desirable recreational amenities.

“Oglethorpe’s residence halls are near capacity and we are need of additional space to accommodate our continued growth,” said Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall. “Our partnership with Gables Residential will allow us to fulfill that need as the new community will offer an alternative living choice for our students while shifting the financial risk away from the university.”

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President Schall in the Turner Lynch Campus Center

Oglethorpe has experienced significant growth during recent years, both in enrollment and through campus development. The university opened the $16M Turner Lynch Campus Center in 2013, and plans to further increase its current student population of 1100 to 1500 by 2020.

Joe Wilber, Senior Vice President – Investments East, for Gables Residential stated, “We are very excited to deliver a first class, vibrant community to the neighborhood that will complement Oglethorpe University.  The opportunity to design, develop and manage a high-end community in Brookhaven is exciting for us as it follows on the heels of our newest mixed-use community, Gables Emory Point.”

Gables Oglethorpe will be comprised of two 4-story residential buildings offering 374 apartment homes, consisting of studios (7%), 1 and 2-bedrooms (88%), and 3-bedrooms (5%).  Gables Oglethorpe will include 6,000 square feet of state-of-the-art classroom space, to be used by Oglethorpe University. New pedestrian pathways will offer secured, gated access for students between the Gables development and Oglethorpe’s main campus.

As Oglethorpe’s enrollment continues to grow, the goal is to ensure that the university is able to still offer a rich residential experience to all students. “Residential facilities have a profound, positive relationship to the recruitment and retention of students,” said Oglethorpe’s Dean of Students and Vice President for Campus Life Michelle Hall. “Students rank residential facilities as the most important destination to see on a campus visit and have the second highest impact, behind facilities in their academic major, on decisions to enroll.”

“This is an historic time for both Oglethorpe University and the Brookhaven area we’ve called home for almost 100 years,” said President Schall. “It’s not an overstatement to say that Oglethorpe has entered into an era of reinvigoration, innovation, and growth—and Gables Oglethorpe is the next step in that progress.”

For more information and updates, visit progress.oglethorpe.edu.

Petrel Intern Makes a Difference at the Latin American Association

479924_10151166982738446_1862507659_n (1)The Latin American Association was established in 1972 with the mission to help Latino families achieve their aspirations for their academic, social and economic advancement. This is accomplished through direct programs and integrated community partnerships that focus on youth academic achievement, education and prevention and services to families with urgent needs. Vicky Herbener ’14 is helping the association to fulfill those goals.

Vicky, an international studies major, wanted to intern with the Latin American Association because of her interest in helping immigrants to make a better life. There, she teaches English, Spanish and computer classes, plus she assists the program director with creating lesson plans. Her other duties include helping with marketing and fundraising. Vicky’s favorite part of her internship is seeing the results — the satisfaction of the people who once needed help.

10317663_10152500591464169_2758810045530574488_oAn LAA internship requires skills in writing, translating and the ability to interact effectively with different types of people. Vicky felt she was prepared thanks to her Oglethorpe education. “It’s important to translate a phrase into Spanish with the same meaning, she said, ” and because I translated so much at Oglethorpe, I felt prepared.”

Vicky advises students who are applying for internships to not to be afraid to apply for the ones you want, even those that may seem out of reach. “Don’t worry about if you have enough experience for it or not,” Vicky says. “Apply anyway, because you never know unless you try.”