Like most IT professionals, the engineering team at BBVA Compass loves the challenge and teamwork of a good hackathon. These condensed collaborative coding events were the inspiration for the inaugural BBVA Compass Ninja Hackathon, which included both bank employees and students from the University of Alabama Birmingham.
The bank’s engineering team conducted a smaller internal exercise in 2017, but wanted to expand its reach and focus for the hackathon. “We wanted the opportunity to solve a real-world challenge and see the impact of our work,” said Jason Howard, Executive Director of Enterprise Architecture at BBVA Compass. “We also wanted to include the next generation of coders, and the students at UAB were anxious to participate.”
Howard: We also wanted to include the next generation of coders, and the students at UAB were anxious to participate.
Six teams, comprised of 50 Engineering employees -- affectionately known as ninjas -- and 10 students from the UAB’s School of Engineering, competed against one another in a two-day sprint to build a mobile app for the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham and its programs, Shape Birmingham initiative, UAB Sustainable Smart Cities Research Center, and Tech Birmingham.
Teams used U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Healthy Communities Assessment Tool (HCAT) to help Birmingham community stakeholders assess the quality of neighborhood health assets. The resulting apps evaluated each neighborhood’s parks, schools, public transit, and other services in order to help make Birmingham a more inclusive, healthy, and equitable city.
Howard: The Hackathon was an opportunity for us to give back to our community, engage in teamwork, learn new technologies, and network with young talent.
“The Hackathon was an opportunity for us to give back to our community, engage in teamwork, learn new technologies, and network with young talent,” said Howard. “Plus, we basically got to ‘geek out’ for two days while drinking coffee and having fun.”
Hackathon teams collaborate to create a mobile app for the Birmingham community. (Pictured left to right: IT Security Analyst Nahum Lockett, LEAP Tech Associate David Wyatt, LEAP Tech Associate Alexis Robinson, TQS Analyst Inger Winrow, and UAB student Matthew Jones)
By the end of day two, each team presented its own solution to the business problem in the form of a fully functioning app. The first-place trophy, awarded for the app offering the most functional, original, and professional presentation and comparison of the HCAT data, went to Manager of Technical Architecture Jase Crump, Systems Programmer Chris Dekle, Technical Architect Phillip Ferentinos, Application Program Analyst David Hudman, Application Program Analyst Kris Jaje, and LEAP Program Associate Danielle Scholl. The winners also received Amazon gift cards, and each Hackathon participant will receive two tickets to the BBVA Compass Iron City Showdown.
In the coming weeks, the winning team will meet with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to discuss how to improve and enhance the app and prepare it for release.