Johns Hopkins hackathon lets Baltimore high school students indulge their 'inner nerd'

Carey Business School hosts daylong event to expose students to careers in technology

Choosing a career path can be a daunting task, as Damien Myers can attest. As a teacher at Baltimore's Western High School, the nation's oldest all-girl public high school, he leads a program for students interested in biomedical careers and is constantly looking for ways to expose his students to new career paths.

Myers brought 21 of his students to the Carey Business School on a Saturday for HackCarey, a daylong hackathon designed to expose high school students to technology careers through hands-on computer coding and app development. The high school students spent the day learning HTML and JavaScript to build their own video game.

Krystal Ragoonanan, a freshman at Western, enjoyed the opportunity to write code for the first time.

"It's really cool. I loved learning a new way to do things," she said. "I hope it will give me an idea of what I want to do with my career."

Shamariah Walker, a junior at Western who has studied computers and robotics in school, was equally enthusiastic.

"I enjoyed it a lot," she said. "I know that I want to go into the engineering field and to be a programmer. I've been thinking about programming and designing websites for video games. The volunteers and mentors have been great today."

Myers believes the HackCarey event offers his students a unique experience.

"Opportunities like this are priceless to get students out of the classroom environment and they can see how the skills we are teaching them in school are applicable to career choices," Myers said. "The gap between industry and academics can be wide at times, but I think programs like this can bridge that gap."

This is the second year for HackCarey, which was the brainchild of Dan Givol, a 2016 Global MBA candidate at the Carey Business School. He organized the event with the help of classmates from the student organizations NetImpact and Innovation Factory. Givol also brought in sponsors, including Facebook and Deloitte, as well as outside volunteers to work with the students from Western, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, and Digital Harbor High School.

Mindgrub, a Baltimore-based technology innovation agency, brought 12 employees to HackCarey to teach coding to the high school students. Andy Felix, of Gensuite, also volunteered to work with the students. Facebook donated 20 Macbook computers, which were divided among the participating schools.

For Givol, HackCarey has been a rewarding experience.

"This was by far my favorite experience at Carey. I'm very proud of it," he said. "Business is about people. You get to interact with them and you get to connect on a personal level. We have 50 people here having fun connecting with their inner nerd."

Read more from Carey Business School