Blockchain hackathons

Meet the Hack-a-Hogs: Student innovation in blockchain for food trust

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It was late on a Saturday afternoon and dozens of students were darting across the hall. Ready or not, they had to two minutes to submit their final pitches before judging would begin.

It was the second annual University of Arkansas Blockchain Hackathon, bringing together over 200 students from across disciplines in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. Organized into teams of five, the students worked for 24 hours to come up with pitches for one of the nine hackathon use cases.

IBM Food Trust™, a sponsor of the University of Arkansas Blockchain Center of Excellence, challenged students to design a solution that would allow consumers to provide feedback on food quality while also engage with pertinent food information. Students had to think through both the business and the technology with these considerations in mind:

  • What consumer data would be valuable to various actors
  • How to incentivize consumers to participate
  • How feedback on food is captured at the lot level and connected to existing blockchain data for that lot

Innovative and strong pitches from all of the teams made the competition tough, however, one team stood out for their robust business model, creative data solutions and technology savvy. We are proud to introduce this year’s IBM winners — the Hack-a-Hogs!

Max Boettcher, junior, Information Systems major

“I have a strong devotion towards technology and enjoy programming and working with databases. Outside of school, I enjoy watching NBA basketball, listening to music, and playing video games with friends.”

Evan M. Glover, senior, Information Systems major and Business Analytics minor

“My dad and my friends were huge influences for my interest in technology. My first internship at Ozark Integrated Circuits really sparked my interests in databases, web development, and working with data. I hope that I can continue to learn new things through my experiences with people and can someday put those skills to use in a constructive way, whether it be helping the people around me or helping a company achieve their goals.”

Andrew Lukacs, senior, Supply Chain Management and Information Systems double major

“The Blockchain Hackathon was an incredible experience where I was able to bridge the gap between my two majors. Exploring the food chain from farm-to-table along with the underlying technology of a blockchain was truly rewarding. I especially enjoyed the collaboration between my fellow team members who came from different backgrounds each bringing a valuable skillset needed to accomplish our goal. Most of us met each other for the first time during the Hackathon, but the competitive atmosphere unified our team instantly. I have always had an interest in technology, how it works and how we can utilize it to accomplish goals previously unheard of such as the IBM Food Trust. I hope to continue following a path that leads to utilizing my knowledge for future innovation, working with meaningful purpose, and positively impacting the world we live in. As a Louisiana native and Eagle Scout I have thoroughly enjoyed all that Northwest Arkansas has to offer.”

Jonathan Spikes, senior, Computer Science major

“I am an Arkansas native who loves all things coffee, video games, piano, and Premier League football. Tech has always been a passion of mine that I love learning about. It’s exciting to always be learning and improving but never running out of new things to discover or new ways to do something.”

We also congratulate Ryan Nolan, the fifth team member of the Hack-a-Hogs!

Some of the innovations and creativity that the Hack-a-Hogs incorporated into their final solution included:

  • Simple consumer app
  • Discount program to incentivize consumer participation
  • Weighted satisfaction score for each actor in the supply chain
  • Tiered information flow model

“What made the Hack-a-Hogs team’s entry stand out was how well they thought through not only the high-level solution, but also its detailed implementation,” explained judge Robert Marra, manager of Blockchain Solutions Support. In the words of Misty Decker with IBM Z Systems Academic Initiative, “Their background in information systems, supply chains, and data analytics was evident, but what made them winners at the end of the day was the passion for problem solving that came through in each of them.”

We, at IBM Food Trust™, are delighted to applaud the Hack-a-Hogs on their impressive proposal and win. The future of food and technology is truly in good hands!

Explore the food ecosystem with IBM Food Trust™

Marketing, IBM Food Trust, Blockchain - IBM Industry Platform

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