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Organizers Proclaim 'Hackathon' a Success

Credits: courtesy photo

FLEMINGTON, NJ - The first annual HackHunterdon hackathon was held April 28-29, and its organizers are calling it a “resounding success.”

It attracted participants from the county and beyond to Feed Mill Station here.  

Hunterdon County Economic Development, Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, and Flemington Community Partnership created the event to encourage tech sector growth in Hunterdon.

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Sam Napolitano, SVP of Engineering at Viacom and HackHunterdon mentor/judge, kicked off the event with a few words about technology growth.

“Technology has no boundaries or end of possibilities …My challenge to all of you today is to help define the next evolution of technology,” he said to the 30 participants.

John Goodwin, Engineering Manager at Facebook, led the hackers in a project pitch and team formation exercise that culminated in 11 teams.

Hacker Jeff Widmer, a Flemington resident and organizer of the Flemington .NET User Group, worked on Team Hometown Hunterdon, an application that provides prospective new residents to Hunterdon a searchable tool for data about the county.

The teams worked on projects ranging from Sound Medicine - Rahul Agarwal’s application that enables the Amazon Echo to read medication labels to people who may have difficulty reading fine print - to Project Main Street (Bob King, Eric Ferrer, Dennis Harabin, and Derek Duschene) - a beacon-based marketing system for small town businesses.

The grand prize winning team, Open POS, developed an open source point of sale system that will allow small business owners to remove costs from a crucial part of their financial processing system.

The three judges were Goodwin, Napolitano and Eric Herbel, founder and President of Integrated Clinical Systems.

Brian Swingle, a borough Councilman who was part of Team Open POS, said he will be donating his portion of his team’s winnings to the Wounded Warrior Project. “Congratulations to everyone for a grand slam of a first year event,” he said.

Chris Phelan, President of the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, said, “It was so impressive to witness these incredibly talented individuals create so much in such a short time. This was a tremendous undertaking by all the HackHunterdon partners. We learned a lot, and we’ve already begun to plan for HackHunterdon 2018.”

Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, who is also a physicist, gave the keynote address.

“What state has the highest density of scientists, engineers, and computer scientists in the country ?” he asked. “New Jersey,” he said, answering his own question. “But when you think about innovation, where do you think about? California. Why not New Jersey? And why not start it in Hunterdon County? We have biotech; we have pharma; we have amazing research universities. We have the ingredients. Why not here and why not now?”

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