Up All Night Making Apps: Students Compete in an All-Night App Contest

David Daudelin, a computer science major, competes in a Hackathon, a 24-hour app making contest. Daudelin, working alone, took third place.

Sixty students pulled an all nighter. They weren’t studying. They weren’t partying. They were up making apps.

The students making the apps (software applications) competed in a 24-hour Hackathon -- an app development contest held recently at NJIT. The contest started at noon on a Saturday and ended the next day at 4 p.m.

Working in teams, the students were asked to make apps to improve the usability of SciVerse, an online platform that stores 10 million science articles.  SciVerse is owned by Elsevier, a science publisher that co-sponsored the contest; the Association for Computing Machinery, an NJIT student club, was the other sponsor. In sponsoring the contest, Elsevier is hoping to identify bright students who could one day work as app developers SciVerse.   

At the end of the 24 hours, each team had to demonstrate its app to a panel of judges -- NJIT professors of computer science and Elsevier developers. Then the panel announced three winning teams. First place went to Jesse Campbell and Metin Yorulmaz, part-time graduate students in computer science. They won $1500 for their project, "SV Social," which lets SciVerse users mark articles as favorites, share the articles on social networks and convert text to speech.

Jesse and Metin both work as software developers by day and take NJIT classes at night. Jesse works for iSpeech Inc., a start up located in NJIT’s business incubator. The firm makes text-to-speech software. Metin works for the AXU Group, a software company in New York City.

Jesse and Metin were thrilled with their win. “It was unbelievable when they announced us as the winners,” said Metin. “I can't express the feeling with words.”

Asked how he’d spend his prize money, Metin quipped: “I’ll buy a sleeping-bag and seat cushion for the next Hackathon.” Jesse ironically added he’d use his money to “a book about acute psychological stress.”

Second place went to Andy Contreras, an information technology major, and John Lin, a computer science major. They won $1000 for their project "Research Drifter," which allows users to see the research projects at universities across the world. At NJIT, Andy and John both work as student researchers on the Smart Campus project, an effort to develop a large-scale mobile communication system. Andy works on the project as a designer and John as a software developer.

David Daudelin, a computer science major who competed alone, won third place and $500 for his project "RoboVisor" — an automated student advising system he built for NJIT students. Daudelin’s app allows students to keep track of what classes they must take to graduate.  

David is a brilliant student -- an Honors College scholar with a 4.0 GPA. Through the accelerated BS/MS program, he plans to take six graduate-level classes while still an undergraduate. He expects earn a master’s degree in just one semester.  He started programming when he was 10, when his parents gave him a DOS computer. He found a book in his local library about programming and read it at night before bed, teaching himself Basic. 

Now, a decade later, he runs his own business, Hackettstown Computer Medic, which does hardware and software repair, website design and wedding videography.  He lives on campus with his brother, Jonathan Daudelin, a mechanical engineering major who in his spare time builds award-winning robots. Jonathan has also written two best-selling books about robotics.

After he gets his master’s, David plans to work expanding his business. Meanwhile, he loves his classes at NJIT and enjoyed competing in the Hackathon.  “It was exciting and high pressured,” he said. “I was just running on adrenaline, and it was a lot of fun.”

(By Robert Florida, Office of Strategic Communications)