Hackathon Links Millennials To Golf

More than a hundred tech-savvy enthusiasts gathered to test their skills in the NBCUniversal Hackathon held at the Idea Center in Miami Dade College on Oct. 22.

For 24 hours the programmers intensely worked in teams to compete for the grand prize. The aim was to make online tee times more accessible and appealing to millennials through the GolfNow Challenge.

In the end, the creators of Pop-Up Shot were deemed the winners. They walked away with a $10,000 check for developing the winning project.

“It’s a fun way to spend our time,” said Manuel Macias, 23, who was part of the winning team. “We feel these ideas can improve people’s experiences. We grow ourselves and add to our portfolio.”

The attendees brought their laptops and began to hack at noon. Programmers aimed to engage millennials in the 18-hole sport, which is often preconceived as a game for older people.

The Pop-Up Shot prototype includes chatbots, computer programs that are able to intelligently engage in human conversations. The team used Facebook Messenger to demonstrate their project in front of an audience of 150.

It  targets users through social media and instant messaging. They receive events with information about nearby golf course tee times, reservation of golf courses sponsored by millennial-oriented brands like Converse.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for students to apply what they learn in the classroom,” said Leandro Finol, the founder and executive director of the Idea Center.

Maria Vizcaino

Maria Elena Vizcaino, 20, is a mass communications/journalism major at MDC-West. Vizcaino, who graduated from Ronald W. Reagan Doral Senior High School in 2015, will serve as a briefing editor for The Reporter during the 2016 summer semester. She aspires to become an investigative print journalist.