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UOIT Computing Science student finding success at hackathons

UOIT Computing Science Co-operative Education student Matthew Clark (Class of 2015) at HackerNest Construct in Toronto, Ontario.
UOIT Computing Science Co-operative Education student Matthew Clark (Class of 2015) at HackerNest Construct in Toronto, Ontario.

When Matthew Clark arrived at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in September 2010, he knew he had a passion for science and computing technology. At the time, he had no idea how far that passion would take him.

“When you walk into the lecture hall on first day of your first year at university, you don’t necessarily know where your journey is going to take you,” said Clark, who came to UOIT from Anderson CVI in Whitby, Ontario.

Now completing his fourth year in Faculty of Science’s five-year Computing Science Co-operative Education program, Clark has incredible number of exciting hands-on learning experiences under his belt – including a 12-month work placement with RBC in Toronto, Ontario. In addition to setting the stage for his upcoming career, the RBC opportunity opened the door to a new world of computing competitions known as hackathons.

“A hackathon pits teams of software programmers and designers against each other in a compressed time battle to create such things as prototypes for new applications,” said Clark. “Hackathons are all about exploratory programming in a team environment. It’s extremely intense because you really put your knowledge and skills to the ultimate test. And employers are always seeking experts who can work collaboratively under the pressure of deadlines.”

Clark’s introduction to hackathons came in June 2013 when he participated in the RBC Next Great Innovator Challenge. His team, including another UOIT student Alvin Lee, won the entire contest.

He has also competed in various other hackathons, including:

  • MasterCard N>XT Mobile Payments Developer Challenge in Toronto, Ontario
  • HackMIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • HackPrinceton in Princeton, New Jersey
  • HackerNest Construct in Toronto, Ontario

Most recently, Clark won another contest: the Microsoft Surface in the Classroom Design Challenge. That victory has provided a chance to give something back to his former high school.

“I was awarded 32 tablets from the Microsoft contest, and I am giving them to Anderson CVI to support their computer programs,” said Clark. “All of these undergraduate opportunities throughout my UOIT program have helped me gain some amazing experiences and expand my contact network.”  

“Hackathons are a great way for students to develop their computer programming skills,” said Dr. Jeremy Bradbury, Associate Professor, Computer Science, UOIT. “Since most hackathons are team-based they really help prepare students for the challenge of working collaboratively. At the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, we believe a degree in Computing Science should prepare students like Matthew for a successful career. Part of that success comes from encouraging students to apply their knowledge both inside and outside of the classroom."

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