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WIP: Building a Bridge Between Hackathons and Software Engineering Capstones Through Adaptive Expertise

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Software Engineering Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Software Engineering Division

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Cecilia La Place Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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Cecilia La Place is a first-year Ph.D. student at Arizona State University (ASU) studying Engineering Education Systems & Design. She has received her M.S./B.S. in Software Engineering through an accelerated program at ASU. She began researching hackathons after she joined the Fulton Undergraduate Research Initiative (FURI) in her junior year. This stemmed from her love of learning in hackathons having participated in numerous hackathons from as far west as Southern California to as far east as Pennsylvania.

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Shawn S. Jordan Arizona State University Orcid 16x16

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SHAWN JORDAN, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of engineering in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. He teaches context-centered electrical engineering and embedded systems design courses, and studies the use of context and storytelling in both K-12 and undergraduate engineering design education. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Education (2010) and M.S./B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Purdue University. Dr. Jordan is PI on several NSF-funded projects related to design, including an NSF Early CAREER Award entitled “CAREER: Engineering Design Across Navajo Culture, Community, and Society” and “Might Young Makers be the Engineers of the Future?,” and is a Co-PI on the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments grant “Additive Innovation: An Educational Ecosystem of Making and Risk Taking.” He was named one of ASEE PRISM’s “20 Faculty Under 40” in 2014, and received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama in 2017.

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As educators work to teach their students the skills necessary for success, educators face a difficult problem: teaching students how to solve problems they have never seen before. Engineering problems are always changing, and while solutions can typically be found, some students find themselves feeling unprepared in these situations. Often, students resolve this concern by participating in internships or finding other ways to obtain real world experience. Some students have begun to attend coding marathons known as hackathons. In the past decade, hackathons have been on the rise, and many students in technology degrees such as computer science (CS) and software engineering are eagerly throwing themselves into hackathons. Some say it gives them more opportunities than their degree does in the form of learning and networking (Warner & Guo, 2017). Students at these 36-hour coding marathons are not maliciously breaking into systems such as banks. Instead, they are developing technical solutions to problems they choose to address (Briscoe & Mulligan, 2013). However, few understand what other impacts hackathons have. Even less understand how hackathons impact students. Some work has begun to address knowledge transfer within hackathons, specifically how students are sharing and receiving knowledge (Blinded for Review). However, there is a missing link in understanding what knowledge students bring into hackathons and share with other participants, and how students use software process in their hackathon projects. This pilot study looks at a unique group of students from [Blinded University] in the Software Engineering program. Students in this program have been taught to apply skills learned through project-based courses with the intent of also learning how to contextually apply knowledge to solve different problems (Gary, 2015). Hackathons present a potentially familiar environment for these students though shorter in nature. The projects these students develop in each environment will allow for an exploration into a selection of skillsets software engineers bring to hackathons, and the processes used in their projects both consciously and subconsciously. This work will inspire a series of research following knowledge transfer within hackathons as more domains such as engineering, math, science, and art join the event and shape development processes. Though motivational studies on hackathons are thorough, considering how these motivations play into the projects developed at hackathons may lend to a deeper understanding of student experience, and potential career-defining moments that can be leveraged by university courses.

La Place, C., & Jordan, S. S. (2020, June), WIP: Building a Bridge Between Hackathons and Software Engineering Capstones Through Adaptive Expertise Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35524

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