Computer Science Students Take Home First Place at HackATL

  • December 8th, 2017
Joey Murphy, Ethan Sorrell, Emily Huynh and Steven Eastcott at HackATL

A team of College of Engineering students took home first place in a recent business competition.

HackATL was held on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta Nov. 10-12. Approximately 45 teams made up of around 200 undergraduate and graduate students participated. Competitors are studying several disciplines including business, graphic design and computer science.

“Although it was called HackATL, it was more of a startup weekend in nature with the main focus on creating a business plan and model,” said Joey Murphy, UA computer science student.

Teams were tasked with creating a business for a product or service in one of the designated categories — health and wellness, social enterprise or consumer technology. Groups had 36 hours to organize a business plan, which they then pitched to judges in preliminary and final rounds.

The UA team’s project, in the health and wellness category, was a mobile application called Runa.

“Runa is a mobile application to aid childhood speech development by using speech-to-text and natural language processing technology to detect new vocabulary words, sentence complexity and more,” said Emily Huynh, UA computer science graduate and current MBA student.

Parents and guardians are the intended users of the app, which gives them a tool to track their children’s progress.

“Essentially, a parent engages in a conversation with their child while recording it in their app. Once the conversation is over, Runa runs analytics on that conversation and provides charts and milestones of the child’s speech development,” Huynh said.

Murphy said the app analytics also note parts of speech and response length.

The UA team, composed of Huynh, Murphy, Steven Eastcott and Ethan Sorrell, won $2,000, first place in their category, and first place overall.

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.