AFCEA International Chapter News
BELVOIR CHAPTER CHAPTER - Apr 13, 2018

Innovation Hackathon Puts STEM Skills to the Test

More than 250 students from various colleges and universities converged on the Woodbridge campus of Northern Virginia Community College for the third annual Innovation Hackathon in April, sponsored in part by the chapter. Students came prepared to lock themselves in for the 36-hour, around-the-clock competition. Challenges were designed to test the skills of those specializing in cybersecurity and secure coding. Event sponsors ranging from small to large business provided the challenges. General Dynamics Information Technology and Rigil Corp., AFCEA corporate members and event sponsors, provided challenges. The chapter, the parent sponsor of the NVCC Student Chapter, was the event's top sponsor. This year, the board conceptualized a challenge-one of the benefits of sponsorship-to address a need for all AFCEA chapters. Students had to create a mobile membership app specific to AFCEA. But before students began their work, they listened to keynote speaker Kenneth Fritzsche of the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM) within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's National Protection and Programs Directorate. Fritzsche, who holds a Ph.D. in computer science, discussed his career progression and stressed the importance of actively participating in educational opportunities. The chapter board member encouraged participants to consider STEM when exploring lucrative career options. "STEM is more than just learning about science, technology, engineering and math courses. It's also about learning how to think critically and become a problem solver," Fritzsche said. "The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there will be a 73 percent increase of STEM career growth in the next seven years, with a focus in computer-related fields. This is your time to focus on what you want your career and future to look like after you complete your education." Highly trained cybersecurity experts also spoke to participants on topics such as computer science and information technology through "Tech Talks." Several dignitaries stopped by the hackathon, including Michael Wooten, assistant deputy secretary for community colleges in the U.S. Department of Education. The teams presented their work to judges. Representing AFCEA were Fritzsche; Alvie Johnson, National Capital Region regional vice president; Bill Jones, chapter president; and Ivan Johnson, chapter treasurer. The challenges involved the complexities of data visualization, developing applications, information assurance and secure programming. Prizes were awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners. Also, sponsors honored seven students, who each received a $1,000 Hackathon Award. The event also included a job fair that provided participants and the general public a chance to explore career opportunities with local information technology and cybersecurity companies. The chapter looks forward to introducing the students' app at an upcoming AFCEA event.

Event Photographs:

Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Student Chapter leaders (from 2nd from l) Andrew Brant, executive vice president, Evan Colley, president, and Walter Pehrsson, NVCC professor and adviser, gather with Belvoir Chapter President Bill Jones (l) and Jeff Thompson, Belvoir strategic initiatives chair, during the April hackathon.
Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) Student Chapter leaders (from 2nd from l) Andrew Brant, executive vice president, Evan Colley, president, and Walter Pehrsson, NVCC professor and adviser, gather with Belvoir Chapter President Bill Jones (l) and Jeff Thompson, Belvoir strategic initiatives chair, during the April hackathon.
Michael Wooten, assistant deputy secretary for community colleges in the U.S. Department of Education (3rd from r), makes time for a photo op at the April hackathon with (from l) NVCC's Pehrsson and the student chapter's Brant, Jack Bargiel, Colley and Mallaly Shpoon.
Michael Wooten, assistant deputy secretary for community colleges in the U.S. Department of Education (3rd from r), makes time for a photo op at the April hackathon with (from l) NVCC's Pehrsson and the student chapter's Brant, Jack Bargiel, Colley and Mallaly Shpoon.

For more details regarding this event contact:
Andi Fehl
5712452219

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