Origami Risk Hosts 155 High School Students for 2019 Chicago “Hack-a-thon”

Budding Developers Learn Code, and Create Apps, Websites and Games During Frenetic 24-hour Competition

CHICAGO, July 11, 2019 – A group of 155 Chicago-area high school students recently participated a 24-hour Chicago “Hack-a-thon” event held at the headquarters of Origami Risk, the insurance and risk management Software as a Service (SaaS) company.

Known as Windy City Hacks, the event was organized by seven Chicago high school students led by Matthew Stanciu. It involved 42 teams of students who worked 24 consecutive hours through the weekend of June 22-23, competing for prizes in six categories. Nearly 50 programmers, managers and executives from Origami Risk and other leading software and technology firms across the U.S. supported the students, with nine serving as official judges for the event.

“For the students, the Hack-a-thon was a powerful hands-on learning and team building experience,” said Spencer Vadner, client executive, Origami Risk. “And for those of us serving as mentors, it was amazing to see the students not only engaging and sharing their interests, but also striving to solve issues together. We were thrilled to help facilitate this event.”

Here were the winning entries in each category:

  • Best overall: Habit@, a web app gamifying sustainability by helping users build and maintain lower-carbon habits. (Prize: AirPods)
  • Best beginners: Languages101, an introductory information website for international travelers, offering common phrases, well-known foods and important history. (Prize: Google Home minis)
  • Best game: StockGamer, an educational, real-time desktop stock market simulation game. (Prize: 1TB SSDs)
  • Best mobile app: GradeTree, an all-in-one school info management app, including views for grades, transcripts, attendance and daily lunch menus, as well as a train tracker to get home. (Prize: Samsung portable chargers)
  • Best teamwork: Beep Boop, a free, online GarageBand instruments alternative. (Prize: Tiles)
  • Best design: Vouch, a website connecting non-profit events and projects with sponsors. (Prize: Sketch licenses, a professional design tool)

The only such program held in Chicago this year and the largest to date in the Midwest, Windy City Hacks was available free-of-charge to high school students, who were not required to have any prior experience with technology or coding. Seven members of Windy City Hacks also led four beginner workshops on such topics as “Building your first website from scratch in an hour,” “An introduction to building games,” “Making a music synthesizer website” and “A competition to use AI to train bots.”

“We were delighted to join with Windy City Hacks and the other sponsors to offer this unique learning experience for high school students,” said Robert Petrie, CEO, Origami Risk. “Given all the creativity and collaboration that came out of the Hack-a-thon, it’s going to be exciting to pass the torch on to a highly motivated next generation of innovators, developers, programmers and business leaders.”

The students organizing Windy City Hacks raised more than $14,000 for the event from company sponsors, including Origami Risk, 8th Light, GitHub and ActiveCampaign, and arranged for meals and snacks for the participants. The event was conceived to help Chicago high school students learn about career opportunities in the technology and information sector, and develop related skills. More information is available at windyhacks.com.