ECPI Students Win “Most Innovative” Award at Dominion Enterprises’ Hackathon

ECPI University students Adam Myers, Kenneth Crim, and Justin Norman are accompanied by their Dominion Enterprises coaches in accepting their award.

ECPI University students Adam Myers, Kenneth Crim, and Justin Norman are accompanied by their Dominion Enterprises coaches in accepting their award.

A team of three ECPI University students from the Newport News and Virginia Beach campuses has been honored with the “Most Innovative Award” at Dominion Enterprises’ 7th Annual Hackathon, HACKU2. The two-day event held at Dominion Enterprises’ headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia is designed for students to gain real world software development experience by collaborating and designing functional games and apps. This year, teams were tasked with designing and programming working games, or game-themed apps by utilizing nationally recognized API’s as well as some used by Dominion Enterprises itself.

Game and Simulation students Kenneth Crim and Adam Myers and Web Development student Justin Norman developed a new approach to authenticating whether a user is human or not. This has the potential to replace the existing CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computer and Humans Apart) challenge-response test method. This approach utilizes a smiley face and a scroll bar where the user selects a particular smiley face image and find its match on a scroll bar to authenticate that they are not a “bot” – thereby reducing the amount of spam on a web site.

Dominion Enterprises is a leading marketing services and publishing company serving the automotive, recreational and commercial vehicle, real estate, apartment rental, employment, parenting, and travel industries. The company’s businesses provide a comprehensive suite of technology-based marketing solutions including Internet advertising, lead generation, customer relationship management, website design and hosting, and data management services. The company has more than 45 market-leading websites reaching more than 20 million unique visitors monthly. More than 77 million For Rent®, Employment Guide® and HotelCoupons.com® publications are distributed nationwide each year.

ECPI University Hosts App Camp

ECPI University is pleased to have 25 high school students at its Virginia Beach campus this summer. In conjunction with Opportunity Inc., Junior Achievement and Virginia Beach Public Schools, the university is hosting App Camp, a six-week intensive course on mobile apps.

Students participating in this free program learn how to build an app, develop solutions for potential problems with the app and create graphics for the app’s interface. Led by ECPI University Associate Dean of Education Technology Gerry White, they will also learn how to make a basic game for mobile devices that is downloadable so they can play it with their friends.

Students then learn the business side of app development. Junior Achievement instructors guide them as they create a business plan to use their app to develop and sell a product. In the end, they will leave camp with a web portfolio which they can take into the workforce.

The ultimate goal, however, is to ignite student interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by making these subjects fun. “You never know, this sort of experience just might lead a student down a very rewarding career path,” says White. “When you show them the practical applications of something they once considered abstract, it creates a fertile ground for learning.”

High School Students Learn to Develop Web Application through STEM Camp

The Youth Center of Hampton Roads hosted a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) camp at ECPI for 20 enthusiastic Hampton Roads teens. The five-day program in July introduced students to mobile technology and included an opportunity to learn and develop a web application (APP).

There is a national movement to encourage more students to pursue education and careers in STEM fields. The “Change the Equations” national initiative pledges to create literacy in science, technology, engineering and math as an investment in the nation. One of the goals of the initiative is to inspire student appreciation and excitement for STEM programs and careers to increase success and achievement in school and opportunities for a collegiate education.

ECPI Academic Technology Associate Dean, Gerry White, works with the kids to teach them APP development.

“We were really excited about introducing and reinforcing the STEM initiatives to participating youth,” said Paul Dockery, Business Development Specialist for ECPI University. “It was a great partnership to share with the youth the cool aspects of the technology field. These same areas are those that will allow the Hampton Roads community and beyond to remain the technological leader in the marketplace of the 21st century.”

The course, taught by Gerry White, covered beginning Mobile Web APP development. Students learned to design icons and buttons and facilitate the coding to launch their own Mobile Web APP. At the end of the program students created an individual APP to showcase their resume and writing samples with links to their social networks.

The program was through the Youth Career Center of Hampton Road operated by Opportunity Inc., which provides career guidance and workplace readiness skills training to Hampton Roads youth aged 14-21. Area businesses that supported the workshop included ECPI University, STIHL and We Are Titans.

Two workshop participants show off their custom built APPs.

“I’ll build an app for that.”

After six years in the Air Force, Eric Richardson wanted to transition to civilian life by completing his education. Who better to ask for advice than his father who suggested ECPI University after graduating himself in the 1960s. Eric enrolled in the Web Development program at the Richmond Campus’s Moorefield location in Virginia using his VA benefits. Two years ago he began the process and he completed his last class to obtain his bachelor’s in September. He has already landed an exciting job with Willow Tree Apps.

“I liked the core programming classes that included Java and C# (pronounced C sharp for the less tech savvy),” said Eric. “After I got the hang of it, I knew that is what I wanted to do.” After Career Services assisted with an introduction to Willow Tree Apps, Eric earned employment over lunch with Michael Prichard, the founder and Chief Technology Officer.

Willow Tree Apps was founded in 2007 and is based in Charlottesville, Virginia. They were one of the first companies to launch an iPhone app, and its Spotasaurus app is often featured in Apple’s television and print advertising. “I’ve been attending weekly meetings while I’m still in school prior to making the move,” said Eric. “They have a west-coast start-up feel with an open, friendly atmosphere. It is going to make a great environment.”

Eric admits that the year-round schedule at ECPI was challenging but really appreciated the small class sizes. “I was able to ask questions and actually get a response,” explained Eric. “There was more interaction that the typical school environment.”

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