Teams from University of Georgia, Montgomery County Community College join Starfish developers to build new mobile solutions for higher ed students, advisors


ARLINGTON, VA – June 30, 2017 – Hobsons, a leading provider of college readiness, matching, admissions, and student success and analytics solutions, today announced the winning projects from its Starfish Going Mobile Hackathon event held June 26-28 at the company’s Arlington, VA, office.

Over the course of three days, nine teams consisting of more than 50 developers, web designers, and user experience researchers and designers iterated to create new mobile solutions that empower advisors and engage students.

Participants from the University of Georgia and Montgomery County Community College worked side-by-side with Starfish developers, data scientists, engineers, designers, and product managers to conceive and define a project, spec out their concepts, and present their approaches. Hobsons judges selected winners for three main awards:

  • The Quality, Operations, and Technical Excellence (QOT) Award: This award was given to a Starfish team comprised of Erik Little, Dusan Puletic, Akash Deshpande, and Marc Carrion, whose project “Mapping Courses to Jobs” stretched technology, collaborated across functions, and showed distinct technical superiority. The team designed a solution using natural language processing (NLP) that extracts and matches keywords from a student’s academic plan to actual job listings in their area, helping students to better understand end goals.
  • The Peer Recognition Award: Decided by the Hackathon participants themselves, this award went to the Starfish team of Janice Gluck, David Kotsonis, and Darshan Shaligram, whose “Visualize Import Batch Execution and Failure” project developed monitoring and visualization tools that provide insight into the way that large amounts of data flow within the Starfish platform.
  • The Best “Going Mobile” Project: This award was given to the team of Andrew Rosner and Rob Vogel from Montgomery County Community College, along with Russ Little and Rich Diaz from Starfish. Their project, called “Student Success Utilizing Data Science and Proactive Messaging,” leveraged the existing Starfish predictive models in a new way -- by sending interactive messages directly to students’ mobile devices.

Two participants from the University of Georgia, Andy Rice and Dillon Johnson, were also among the MVP winners for their work on a mobile real-time student feedback application.

Annu Singh, Hobsons’ VP of Engineering for Student Success, said, “When we thought about hosting a Hackathon, we were looking for an opportunity to take time to focus on our creativity. There are so many processes involved in a traditional approach to development – stories, requirements, alignment, testing, review, refinements – and we did all of that, but we compressed it all into 48 hours. It’s been exciting!”

The Hackathon emphasized creating new features that increase campus-wide adoption and retention rates, and the resulting ideas demonstrate the vast potential for streamlining campus operations and boosting student success.

“The work from all participating teams exceeded our expectations, and planted the seeds for exciting innovation in and around the Starfish platform,” said Howard Bell, Starfish General Manager at Hobsons. “We are already hard at work planning our next Hackathon for January 2018, and look forward to continuing to break new ground with the help of some of the sharpest talent in the ed tech space.”

About Hobsons

Hobsons helps students identify their strengths, explore careers, create academic plans, match to best-fit educational opportunities, and reach their education and life goals. Through our solutions, we enable thousands of educational institutions to improve college and career planning, admissions and enrollment management, and student success and advising for millions of students around the globe. Hobsons works with more than 12,000 schools, colleges, and universities and serves more than 13 million students.

About the Starfish Enterprise Success Platform

The Starfish Enterprise Success Platform™ helps hundreds of colleges and universities efficiently scale their student success programs so that more students can achieve their academic and life goals and finish what they start. Hobsons’ Starfish platform supports more than 4.5 million students each term, using its analytics solution to identify at-risk students in real time, pinpoint areas of concern, and connect students with valuable services. It also helps higher ed institutions use reliable, actionable data to assess which services and interventions are working to keep students on track.

Media Contact:

Patty Reinert Mason


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