Appalachian data analytics students win Charlotte Hackathon

Students from Appalachian State University earned the top honors in the 2018 Charlotte Hackathon March 23-24, winning a $10,000 prize for their work.

The students—Cameron Barnett, Daniel Emery and Kiefer Smith—are earning master of science in applied data analytics degrees from Appalachian's Walker College of Business.

Related: Appalachian's Walker College of Business expands curriculum to meet growing demands of industry in supply chain management and data analytics

The two-day, overnight event was held at Charlotte's Discovery Place with an aim to improve housing and economic mobility issues in the city.

Approximately 800 people were on hand as teams presented their solutions to judges and audience members at the conclusion of the hackathon, offering viable solutions to the issues at hand.

Participants were judged in three categories: hack, code and freestyle.

The Appalachian team earned first place in the hack category, through which they were judged on the quality of their predictions and scalability of code to solve the problem.

Competing under the team name 'R U READY?', the Appalachian students presented on affordable housing analytics.

"We implemented two models," said Smith. "An ensemble (multiple models together), and a deep neural net; both yielded housing value predictions."

Smith said he created a web application to display the results and map where prices and forecast values are rising to help policymakers and developers visualize the information and make good decisions.

Students from NC A&T won the code category, and $7,000, for their web platform that incorporates financial literacy and homeownership and rent affordability based on educational attainment.

CLT DEV won the freestyle category, and $3,000, with their app that pairs individual/families who are willing to share a home.

Hackathons give computer programmers and others involved in software development the opportunity to collaborate on software projects and compete for bragging rights and prize money with a goal to create usable software.

Began in 2012 by Tresata founder Abhishek Mehta and then-Harris-Teeter-CIO Jim Clendenen, the Charlotte Hackathon showcases the area tech talent and community.

This is the first year Appalachian has had a team in the competition.

Learn more about the Charlotte Hackathon on their website,

About Appalachian's Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics Program

Organizations increasingly rely upon both structured and unstructured large-scale data for operational and strategic decision-making. Appalachian's Master of Science in Applied Data Analytics degree provides students with not only the technical skills to work with data, but to do so within the business context. The program develops business professionals who understand and apply data analytics concepts, techniques and tools to promote effective organizational problem-solving. Learn more at

Appalachian students earn first place in 2018 Charlotte Hackathon (Photo by Pete Murphy)
Published: Mar 24, 2018 5:58pm