Students Place 2nd in Global Hack VI

Seniors Michel Ge, Sidd Mehta and Bob Sforza competed in the extremely challenging hack-a-thon, Global Hack VI, placed second for their project, Clementine, and won $25,000!

Clementine is designed to help the homeless population locate shelters, care providers and long-term housing solutions.

The hack-a-thon challenged youth, college, and professional teams to create a software package linking organizations in St. Louis dedicated to helping the homeless so they can more effectively and efficiently help people in our region obtain permanent, safe, supportive and affordable housing. The teams coded until 10 a.m. Sunday morning.

Janet Purdy spoke about their achievement in Friday’s assembly:


Most people wouldn’t look at homelessness and see a software problem, but that’s how 1,200 programmers approached the issue last weekend.

Last Friday, beginning at 6pm at St. Louis University’s Chaifetz Arena three of your classmates took on a can-do attitude and joined professional programmers, college students, and other high schools from five different countries and 33 states. It was a hack-a-thon competition with $1 million in prize money on the line, GlobalHack VI.

So what could programming do to help homelessness you may ask? The St Louis area has over 60 agencies that serve the homeless by providing food, shelter, clothing, or financial assistance.

There is no existing way for them communicate needs to each other, share resources and information, and help the homeless find ways to get assistance. Right now, if a homeless dad arrives at a shelter for battered women, the shelter has no way of finding him a bed and must turn him away. The agencies are always trying to get money for housing, shelter and meals. They don’t have resources to spend on technology.

It was an ambitious agenda but three MICDS students figured out a way to help and coded a solution. After two sleepless nights and lots of Red Bull, a program was created. These three coding geniuses programmed a way for agencies to register with their location, contact information, capacity of beds, restrictions of who they can help, current availability, and any other services they provide. Their solution connects these agencies and allows a homeless person to find help near them. It also provides a way the agencies to help their clients find the assistance they need. With this program, the shelter can help find the homeless dad a bed in a shelter and even reserve it, helping to ensure no one has to be turned away.

I ask that Michel Ge, Sidd Mehta, and Bob Sforza please stand. These three classmates are helping change the world. They are helping our community using technology for good. They were able to network with professionals and gain understanding of real-world problems. Oh, and did I mention they won 2nd place in the youth division earning the team $25,000. Please join me in congratulating the team.

Michel, Sidd and Bob are not stopping their work. They have continued coding and are considering pursuing some of the $250,000 available funds for forwarding their program and launching it to be a live system used by the shelters and agencies. I hope this inspires some of you to think of ways technology can be used in helping others. There are many ways to learn about programming: join our programming club, take a programming class, join hour of code, and even register in local hack-a-thons. We will even be hosting a hackathon event at MICDS later this year.