Fast-growing Technology Club Garners Multiple Wins at Hacking Competitions

Fast-growing Technology Club Garners Multiple Wins at Hacking Competitions

A&M-San Antonio’s Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) Student Chapter has been on quite a winning streak lately, winning a number of hacking competitions. 

Launched in 2016, the University’s AMA chapter is located within the Computing and Cyber Security Department. With about 150 members, the club works on solving real-world problems using applied computing skills. 

University students have been putting these skills to the test at a number of recent competitions, including RowdyHacks. Held in late February at the University of Texas at San Antonio, the weekend-long hackathon attracted nearly 600 students from across the state who worked in teams to complete science projects. Two A&M-San Antonio ACM teams won first place in their respective competitions.  

The University also had a good showing at the recent HackUTD, hosted at the University of Texas at Dallas. With some 2,000 competing students, it’s the largest university hackathon in Texas.  

Janet Zulu, president of A&M-San Antonio’s ACM chapter, said the University had two teams participate at HackUTD. In one contest, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, the University placed 1st in a competition where teams were asked to come up with innovative ways to create financial tech that promotes equality and to help make financial opportunities and resources more accessible for marginalized groups.  

University ACM Student Chapter members (left to right) Jonathon Davis, Janet Zulu and Ariana Rosales recently competed at HackUTD in Dallas.

And Zulu’s team placed 3rd in a contest sponsored by Frontier Communications, which provides fiber-optic and cloud-based services. The team devised ways to predict and solve customer connectivity problems, and designed hardware to help keep equipment cool and protected during hot Texas summers.  

“After the competition, my team was invited to tour Frontier’s new Dallas headquarters, which was a really great opportunity,” said Zulu, who is graduating this semester with bachelor’s degree in computer science. She plans to next get her master’s in computer science from A&M-San Antonio.  

Zulu said the University chapter grew by about 400 percent from Dec. 2022 to May 2023, when the organization held its first Tech Night, an IT networking event with students, alumni, faculty and working professionals. The chapter participates in about three competitions per semester, Zulu said, and they’re currently gearing up for contests in Arkansas and at Texas State University.  

In addition to providing great educational opportunities, the University’s ACM chapter connects students with leaders in the industry, fosters the pursuit of computing career opportunities, and helps develop a network of students, businesses and local leaders.      

Dr. Jeong Yang, associate professor and program coordinator for the Department of Computational, Engineering, and Mathematical Sciences, said the organization’s leadership and passion have been key to its success.   

“Throughout the years, there have been good and challenging times,” she said. “However, I would recognize this leadership team for their efforts to rebuild and level up the organization. Together we all have continued to drive students, keeping pace with cutting-edge technology.”  

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