Palm Beach Tech AssociationPalm Beach Tech Association

By Vanessa Calas

Hacking for a Cause: The 2018 Palm Beach Tech Hackathon

Palm Beach Tech Hackathon, Palm Beach County’s first ever 24-hour hackathon, was held on February 23 to 25 and brought in over 75 attendees. Hosted by Palm Beach Tech and the South Florida Science Center, the attendees ranged in age from middle school students to seasoned professionals with 20 years in the industry.

All hackers were invited to bond over the local community and their shared love of technology.


Hacking with a Purpose

This was wasn’t your typical hackathon… Instead of having teams just compete for money or to seed a business, the goal was to give back to the community by helping out a local nonprofit that is hungry for technology. By involving participants in building and providing high-quality tech in every facet of the community, including non-profits, we’ll grow our overall innovation at an exponential rate.

This year, Palm Beach Tech partnered with the Palm Beach County STEM & the Palm Beach County School DistrictThey brought three definitive problems for the hackers to solve:


  1. Matchmaking Classrooms with STEM Professionals: Creation of a platform where classrooms can post their needs and companies can submit their abilities.
  2. Promoting Events & Organization Opportunities: Creation of a software tool that integrates events from partner organizations, to aggregate then disseminate that information to parents, teachers, and the community.
  3. Your Own Idea and Project: Any team who can identify a credible problem and tangible solution to present their own idea. The project must be presented to the School District Staff on Friday evening for vetting and approval.


The Event

Participants coded, hacked, built, and tested as the hours ticked by. The animated atmosphere encouraged most to work through the night. There was palpable energy through the Science Center as the end of the 24 hours got closer.

When the hackathon ended, and each hacker sat back with a deep breath. They’d spent the past 24 hours creating and collaborating towards a shared goal. Despite their exhaustion, they felt immense pride, energy, and accomplishment.

Team Red Stapler, comprised mostly of employees of Florida Power & Light, came in first place. They worked 24 hours straight to build a website that automatically aggregated STEM and community events, and even included an integrated FAQ chatbot.


The Results

1st Place* | Team Red Stapler: Carolyn Gadigan, Rita Borraccio, Kirk Suscella, Dmitri Soroka, Laura Fagley, Sathiya, Venugopalakrishnan

*This team donated their winnings to Palm Beach Tech & Tech Garage

2nd Place | Team Undecided: Brett Wright, Colton Zecca, David ‘Mack’ Seager

3rd Place | Team Nebular: Ryan Wang, Gabriel Ferguson, Greg Perlman, Dani Healy, Sarah Nohe

4th Place | Team Tech Garage: Arman Alexis, Oalis Husband, Julia Cardoso, Christopher Cox, Devin Willis, and Dexter Dixon


Getting Involved

Palm Beach Tech is already planning next year’s hackathon. We’re looking to turn this 24-hour event into an annual competition that helps nonprofits and community organizations for years to come.

Are you looking to get in on the action?

Attend one of our upcoming Palm Beach Tech events or become a member today! We look forward to having you on board for our other exciting events.


By Rich Andrews

Announcing the Winners of the 1st Palm Beach Tech Hackathon

The 1st annual Palm Beach Tech Hackathon kicked off Friday, November 4th at the Palm Beach Tech Space with over 30 attendees, plenty of beer, and an unveiling of projects supporting the South Florida Science Center and the Loxahatchee River Center.  

A “hacker” is often defined and portrayed in the media as “a person who secretly gets access to a computer system in order to get information and cause damage.” But few know that hackers can also be skilled programmers and problem solvers.

The Palm Beach Tech Hackathon had plenty of problem solving going on, as attendees formed teams and gathered at the South Florida Science Center Saturday morning  to begin hacking away at four topics to benefit both of these local non-profits:

  • Create a self-guided tour for the Loxahatchee River Center
  • Create a way to capture guest feedback for the South Florida Science Center
  • Create a way to track the results of the River Center’s 2017 Jr Angler Fishing Tournament
  • Create your own idea to benefit both organizations

On Sunday all coding and hacking stopped at noon, while hackers, guest and patrons gathered to see the final project presentations and hear the winners decided on by an elite team of judges:

  • Brian Dunnam, Executive Vice President Technology @ Levatas
  • Cecil Phillip, Senior .NET Developer
  • Jonathan LeBlanc, Head of Global Developer Advocacy @ PayPal.

In the end, it was a close call, but 3 projects came out on top:

1st Place: Rick Blalock

Created an application featuring a virtual tour and customer feedback system for the River Center & Science Center utilizing IBM Watson. View Project

2nd Place: Rich Andrews, Rishi Gohil, and Divyang Purohit 

This team of FAU graduate students & graduates created an interactive Facebook chat bot using ChatFuel for the Science Center. View Project

3rd Place: Melanie Kafka, Denis Zabavchik, Tedley Meralus, and Ed Janeczek

These “Wordpress Weekend Warriors” created a website and full blown iPhone application to help easily manage the River Center’s 2017 Junior Angler Tournament.

A special thanks goes to the Palm Beach Tech Hackathon Committee:

And a huge thanks to our sponsors:

By Joe Russo

Palm Beach Tech Hackathon Coming to South Florida Science Center


PayPal, Microsoft, and Levatas will judge 3-day completion benefiting local non-profits

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla –The Palm Beach Tech Association and the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium have joined forces to host one of the first hackathons in Palm Beach County to be held November 4 through 6 in West Palm Beach.

The Palm Beach Tech Hackathon will provide a peek behind the scenes of our everyday mobile applications, allowing visitors to experience the process of coding rather than just the product.

Participants in this two-day competition will form teams, vet ideas, create a project, then present their work to an expert panel of judges. It also aims to be an educational opportunity for all ages, with young aspiring programmers welcome to visit the event to observe and learn.

Teams will consist of engineers, designers, developers and entrepreneurs with winning teams walking away with a combination of cash and in-kind prizes. High schoolers can even apply for a Junior Hackathon, a similar competition which will be open to 12 select students.

“Hidden behind the apps so many of us rely upon on a daily basis,” said Lew Crampton, CEO for the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium,“are the lines of code that allow the program to function flawlessly. Dive deeper, and you’ll discover that Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other apps are all made up of a special language – the language of computers. For those with a passion to pursue it, the ability to “talk” with our devices can be a hobby and sometimes even a career.”

The Hackathon will benefit the non-profit Loxahatchee River Center in Jupiter, FL, with potential projectspresented at the kickoff reception Friday, November4, 2016.The spontaneity of the projects, as well as the time limit, creates a sense of urgency andcollaborative environment conducive for great hacking, where intelligent minds with shared interests come together.

The Hackathon judging panel will be made up of three technology industry veterans – Daniel Bruce, Executive Director of Technology at Levatas;Ray Bango, Lead Developer Advocate at Microsoft; and Jonathan LeBlanc, Head of Global Developer Advocacy at PayPal. The Hackathon is also sponsored by Cosmic Strawberry, Arrow Consulting & Design, Levatas, Florida Power & Light,Duffy’s, and MyTaskit.

“The Palm Beaches are ripe for a technology boom, and with that, many talented technologists who can serve our community through their talents,” said Joe Russo, Executive Director of the Palm Beach Tech Association. “We’re honored to work with the Science Center to do our part – helping non-profits help their communities.”

“We’re delighted to partner with Palm Beach Tech to inspire a new generation of coders by providing them with a fun challenge. By witnessing first-hand the amount of teamwork, passion and intelligence that goes into the apps and technology we use every day, visitors will leave sharing the appreciation for coding, and we might even discover a future techie among our visitors.”

Kicking off on Friday at 5:00pm, The Palm Beach Tech Hackathon will run through Sunday at 5:00 PM. Registration is $10 per participant and is now open online at Tickets include registration, T-shirt and a Hackathon “swag bag.”

Regular Science Center guests are welcome to observethe competition and learn more about computercoding with on-site educators and local vendors. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach and is open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Admission to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is $16.95 for adults, $12.95 for children ages 3 to 12 and $14.95 for seniors aged 60 and older. Science Center members and children under 3 are free. Planetarium shows are not included in general admission pricing.

For more information about Hackathon, or other Science Center programming, please call 561-832-1988 or visit Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @SFScienceCenter.



The mission of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is to “open every mind to science.” Named the 2014 Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches’ Nonprofit of the Year, the Science Center features more than 50 hands-on educational exhibits, a 10,000 gallon fresh and salt water aquarium- featuring both local and exotic marine life, a digital planetarium, conservation research station, Florida exhibit hall, Pre-K focused “Discovery Center” and an interactive Everglades exhibit. In an effort to continue to meet the informal science education needs of the community, the Science Center will soon open an 18-hole mini-golf course, the “Conservation Course,” and more than 25 interactive exhibits in the Science Center’s “backyard.”


The Palm Beach Tech Association is a non-profit 501(c)6 membership association uniting and building the innovation, entrepreneurial, and technology industries throughout Palm Beach County.As a countywide trade association, Palm Beach Tech promotes industry growth by working with business groups, educational institutions, and government entities to support the goals of member companies. The core focus is fixed on producing long-term economic impact by attracting new business, supporting startups, and building the talent pool.

Hacking for a Cause: The 2018 Palm Beach Tech Hackathon
Announcing the Winners of the 1st Palm Beach Tech Hackathon
Palm Beach Tech Hackathon Coming to South Florida Science Center