Web developers, coders, and designers are called to unite and use their superpowers for the forces of good on Friday, Oct. 19, when Virginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology co-hosts the Blacksburg/Roanoke location of a statewide Hackathon competition. 

The hackers’ mission: develop innovative applications that leverage existing data on Virginia public school students’ progress toward college and career readiness to help educators and policymakers build a stronger, smarter workforce.

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the state-chartered non-profit Center for Innovative Technology, created a software application development program, Apps4VA, to support the development and implementation of a data system that would record student progress from early childhood to postsecondary and beyond, while also protecting student privacy and confidentiality. This data system is the Virginia Longitudinal Data System (VLDS). 

The Hackathon is a 24-hour competition that encourages the design and development of new applications that use this data system. The Commonwealth of Virginia will use these new technologies to measure Virginia student performance, decipher factors that affect student performance, reveal ways to better prepare Virginia students to enter the workplace, help Virginia students compete in the global marketplace, and provide Virginia teachers with tools to help tailor their programs to student needs.

The Hackathon will be held simultaneously in five locations across the state, including in the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Techology’s STUDIOne, at 460 Turner Street, Blacksburg, Va. All five locations will be linked via simulcast. At the end of the event, prizes will be awarded at each location and one grand prize will be chosen from the applications created throughout the state.

Registration is required; participation is free, but space is limited. Meals and snacks are provided to participants. The Blacksburg/Roanoke Hackathon entry in the competition is co-hosted by the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology; the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council, and Techpad.

A university-level research institute sitting at the nexus of the arts, design, engineering, and science, the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology is uniquely partnered with the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech. By forging a pathway between transdisciplinary research and art, educational innovation, and scientific and commercial discovery, the institute works to foster the creative process to create new possibilities for exploration and expression through learning, discovery, and engagement. This includes preparing students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education environments to succeed in a world that demands teamwork and collaboration of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines; promoting new research domains that transcend institutionalized boundaries; and participating with people of all ages in the process of co-creation.