Three CETA engineering students, Erin Sussmann (Electrical Engineering/Computer Science), Kaiti Stylianides (Mechanical Engineering) and Nicole Carr (Biomedical Engineering), were crucial members of the winning team, Mode, at the 48-hour long Hackathon hosted by Upward Hartford and InsurTech Hartford during the weekend of September 8. Team Mode won first place in the competition and was awarded with a $5000 prize.
What is a Hackathon? Contrary to what it seems, a hackathon is not an exclusively programming event. The three engineering students arrived Friday (Sept. 8) night at Upward Hartford, the co-working space that hosted the event. They found out that Hackathons are for anyone with an idea, a competitive spirit, and desire for knowledge. The only things necessary include coffee, a laptop, and an open mind.
The general theme of the hackathon, insurance technology, was presented as a broad challenge, inviting innovation and imagination to come up with new ideas to tackle current issues with the technology in the insurance business. Ideas were pitched and teams were formed as “companies” to create a product and workable business plan. The 48-hour marathon of research, design, and development began.
Kaiti, Nicole, and Erin, the three CETA engineering students, joined Mode, a team of eclectic strangers whose diversity in experience and excitement for the event made the hackathon truly enjoyable. In addition, the team includes an English grad with a passion for coding, two insurance company employees with a dream and the programming know-how to make it happen, and a few business students from UConn. CETA students did front-end coding to make the website usable and conducted research into many aspects of the insurance industry. The students learned about all aspects of creating a technology start-up, including development, marketing, research & development, and financing. The idea of Mode became a real insurance company for all phone-based e-commerce. The team worked specifically on a very innovative aspect of the company for the 48-hour weekend, and by the end, they had created a business plan, a financial plan, and a live demo of the app.
Team Mode won first place in the competition and was awarded numerous opportunities to continue developing the company at Upward Hartford, along with the $5000 monetary prize. CETA students were also able to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to network with professionals in the insurance and technology industry.
Follow the link to read the press release from Insurtech Hartford: