Over a transformative 36-hour stretch, commencing on a mid-October Friday afternoon, 40 UNC Charlotte students convened in collaborative teams, crafting 14 groundbreaking solutions to complex challenges. The culmination of their efforts unfolded at the inaugural Golden Hack: Impact Weekend, where teams eagerly presented their ideas to a discerning panel of university and community judges, vying for lucrative cash prizes.
Beyond the tangible rewards, the true triumph resonated in the wealth of knowledge, newfound connections, and the spark of inspiration they ignited. Lahari Prathapagiri, a master’s degree candidate in information technology, led a team exploring safe ride-sharing solutions for students. Reflecting on the experience, Prathapagiri remarked, “We stretched our limits and achieved more than we initially believed was possible.”
For many participating undergraduate and graduate students, the hackathon introduced them to an entrepreneurial and multidisciplinary approach they had not encountered before.
“This event provided students with the chance to broaden their skill sets while pushing the boundaries of their interests, all while building connections with campus faculty and industry leaders,” noted Laura Smailes, assistant director for the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), the host of the hackathon held at the PORTAL building from October 20 to October 22.
Smailes emphasized the broader impact, stating, “We aimed to instill in students an awareness of their potential impact on UNC Charlotte’s campus, the Charlotte community, and beyond. The weekend was enriched by the valuable contributions of community leaders and UNC Charlotte faculty who generously volunteered their time to engage with the students.”
Students representing four colleges and the School of Data Science at Charlotte engaged in collaborative brainstorming sessions, learning from entrepreneurs, faculty, and staff from Charlotte, and fostering connections among themselves. The event received support from sponsors including Charlotte’s Division of Research, Belk College of Business, and SIA Partners. This innovative convergence of minds not only addressed immediate challenges but also laid the groundwork for a culture of interdisciplinary problem-solving and entrepreneurial thinking at UNC Charlotte.