Cal Poly Students Win 2015 TransUnion Hackathon

An interdisciplinary team of Cal Poly students won the TransUnion Consumer Interactive Hackathon 2015, held April 17-18 on campus.

The winning team, Hackasaurous Rex, garnered top honors and provided the company with a viable product for future development.

The Hackathon was hosted by TransUnion, a credit reporting agency that also manages diverse sets of data to help consumers reach responsible decisions about their finances. The event brought together about 50 students from a variety of disciplines as developers, engineers, designers and marketers. Each of the 10 teams was given 12 hours and a choice of three challenges developed by the company to produce a final product for TransUnion judges. Among the panel judges were members of the company’s Consumer Interactive Group and the chief marketing officer.

Hackasaurous Rex earned a grand prize of $7,000 for its Web and iOS application named Smart Loans. Team members Nick Giles and Rachel DeNoble (graphic communication); Ryan Blackstone (business); Vanessa Forney (computer science); Max Parelius (computer engineering); and Lucas David (software engineering) created the app to help customers navigate the guidelines for taking out loans. Smart Loans also provides a projected future credit score to forecast how pending loans could impact credit scores.

Cal Poly graphic communication Professor Lorraine Donegan manages the annual Cal Poly Design and Dev Hackathon. “The TransUnion event offered students an opportunity to exercise their entrepreneurial thinking in a different way,” she said. “Each student team was encouraged to build projects following the company’s unique vision and immediate needs, which required a different skill set from the general Cal Poly Design and Dev Hackathon.

“I was so proud to see students participate in a professional hackathon, and TransUnion was pleased to see students really understand and deliver something in such a short amount of time.”

The experience was a rewarding opportunity for TransUnion and students. The company received an influx of new ideas, while students gained valuable experience helping the company upgrade their product offerings.

“I thought it was really cool that a company would open their doors to a bunch of students to seek out new ideas,” Giles said. “It helped me see the inner workings of TransUnion and showed the possibilities if you wanted to go into a design field or even work for companies seeking innovative ideas from young people.” 


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