FDU places second in HSI Battle of the Brains

Students pose with large check

An interdisciplinary team of students placed second in the second annual HSI Battle of the Brains national competition. The team won a $15,000 grant!

March 15, 2022 – A Fairleigh Dickinson University interdisciplinary team of students from the Florham and Metropolitan Campuses placed second in the second annual Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) Battle of the Brains national competition. The team won a $15,000 grant!

The HSI Battle of the Brain 2022 national competition was organized by KPMG and sponsored by corporations including Amazon, Dell, Expedia and Home Depot and ran from March 8-12, 2022, in Austin, Texas.

The FDU team was comprised of students majoring in either computer science or business and include:

Gildart Haase School of Computer Sciences and Engineering

  • Juan Estrella
  • Gabriel Garcia 
  • Mauricio Zamora 

Silberman College of Business

  • Maria Conteras
  • Christopher Molina
  • Kate Borrayes 

Maxwell Becton College of Arts and Science’s Department of Computer Science

  • Nour Elsayyid 
  • Todd Marsh, Jr. 

“As a member of the Hispanic community I was honored to be selected for this competition,” said Christopher Molina. “No amount of meetings or information sessions could prepare me for the joyride of a week that this experience came to be. It was remarkable how many new friendships and relationships were made in less than six days. Through a rigorous 24-hour hackathon, flight delays and hotel mishaps our group from two campuses became one and were able to take home 2nd place at this year’s HSI Battle of the Brains. We traveled to Texas as eight strangers and came back as eight friends.”

Several faculty members served as advisors to the team. Avimanyou Vatsa, assistant professor of Computer Science, Gildart Haase School of Computer Science and Engineering, served as team advisor lead and registered representative at HSI Battle of the Brains. Neelu Sinha, professor, Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics and Eun-Jeong Ko, Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship, Silberman College Department of Management and Entrepreneurship also served as advisors.

The Competition

The HSIBOTB 2022 competition assigned a real-life problem for student participants to solve – draft a plan to help KPMG reduce their carbon footprint. To solve this problem, each team was given 24 hours to develop a solution based on the business challenges presented. After 24 hours, the team’s proposed solution was judged based on the following criteria.

  • Analysis: Ability to thoroughly articulate the technology and business value of their solution
  • Business/Technology Solution: Proposed solution using current and/or future technology trends
  • Presentation: The ability to pitch their solution effectively to the panel of participants
  • Q&A: Demonstrated mastery of subject matter by addressing the judge’s inquiries

At the judging stage, seven teams from seven different universities were selected for the final presentation including FDU, Texas State University, University of Central Florida, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Lehman College, University of Houston and St. Edwards University.

“From 2022 HSI Battle of the Brains, I saw a power of collaboration and a power of community,” said Ko. “FDU students with different backgrounds (business, IT, and CS majors) from three different colleges immediately bonded together although they haven’t known each other before this competition. With the limited time to prepare the competition, we all together reviewed the previous competition at the airport while waiting for a connecting flight and discussed key business elements for a venture creation. We also squeezed our time at several nights to prepare for the 24-hour hackathon and the final presentation, despite the fully packed schedules with meetings with various companies (e.g., Dell, Expedia, Amazon, KPMG and etc.,).

“With the shared goal, motivations, and efforts, our FDU student team won 2nd prize! This achievement was possible because eight FDU students effectively collaborated with each other by leveraging their different skill sets and knowledge to create a business and an accordant technology solution. Creating a business is by nature interdisciplinary. This competition shows a great example of the importance of collaborating with people with different backgrounds. I am so proud of our FDU students who have acknowledged the importance of collaboration and accomplished this big win.”

To learn more visit https://hsibattleofthebrains.com.




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