Features, UCM News

Code-A-Thon creates networking opportunities

PHOTO SUBMITTED BY BELINDA COPUS / Ryan Evans, center, presents the website he helped create with his team Oct. 26 at the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City, Missouri.

(WARRENSBURG, Mo). – UCM senior Ryan Evans has a job interview this Friday with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The same bank that hosted a Code-A-Thon event Oct. 13 where Evans and his team placed second.

Evans, who studies software management as part of his computer science degree, said the Code-A-Thon was a competition that required teams of up to five students to turn out a product adhering to the theme of “From Campus to Corporate.” He said the theme was announced Friday, Oct. 13 and the teams had until Sunday night to create a product and a video describing the product.

“The theme was a surprise, so you couldn’t prepare for it,” Evans said. “But what we did was, we would make sure the computers that we were going to use had all the environments that we would be decoding in, make sure they had all the stuff needed to run a server and that kind of thing so we could make a website, put it up and test it.”

Evans said two teams from UCM’s campus and one from the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit participated in the competition. Students from 15 other Midwestern colleges and universities also competed, according to a news release.

Evans said his team had an idea for what they wanted to create the night the theme was announced, but they soon realized the other team from UCM had the same idea.

“The other team from UCM, they made a social media sanitizer,” Evans said. “It’ll just go through all your tweets or your Facebook posts or whatever and check it against a database of words that you might not want an employer to see and it’ll list them for you and give you the option to delete them.”

Evans said his team worked until 2:30 a.m. the second night because they had to completely restart with their new idea, “The Grapevine.”

“It was a website and it was an anonymous internet forum…so that people who are looking for jobs, just got jobs, and people who have been working in the industry for a long time, they can go on and ask and answer questions anonymously,” Evans said. “So you could ask without fear of repercussions or anything like that… and at the end of our video we said, ‘And remember, you heard it through The Grapevine.”

Evans said both teams from UCM’s campus made it into the finals. He said the finalists were invited to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Oct. 26 to present everything they made.  After treating the finalists to lunch, the bank announced the winners. Evans said his team took second and the other UCM team took first.

Belinda Copus, assistant professor at UCM and the program coordinator for computer science, said this was the first year that UCM was invited to the Code-A-Thon and the second year the bank hosted it. She said the bank came to UCM to promote their internship and graduate program.

“The Federal Reserve has 800 software developers in the Kansas City area,” Copus said. “I know I was misinformed or had made bad assumptions about them. ‘A bank? Do they write software?’ You think all they do is keep accounting and books and bank balances and stuff like that, but there’s a lot of software involved in their organization.”

Evans said he plans on being a software developer in the future. He was able to network at the bank when he helped present his team’s work.

“I’ve taken some web development classes so that’s the skill set that I used for the Code-A-Thon and also I have a job interview this Friday that happens to also be with the Federal Reserve Bank, so I was doing the Code-A-Thon to kind of be like, ‘Hey, you know what I can do,” Evans said. “It’s kind of right up the alley of what I’m trying to do with my life.”

Copus said the bank is very current and modern in the applications that they’re creating. She said they use all the leading-edge technology.

“I think it’s a good partnership for us and for UCM, and for them and for our students,” Copus said.

When recruiters from the bank came to campus, Evans said he introduced himself as the president of the Association for Computing Machinery. They remembered him.

“One of the professors was like, ‘Hey, the Federal Reserve Bank (of Kansas City) asked me if you were going to do the Code-A-Thon,” Evans said.

She said the bank was keeping an eye out for new talent while also giving students a venue to stretch their skills.

“Any business that’s looking at interns and things, they’re trying to find new talent for their company, so it’s a win-win for everybody,” Copus said. “Our students gained a lot in it, our industry partner met potential candidates that they would consider interviewing, and Ryan’s a prime example.”

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