180 HBCU Students to Participate in 8th Annual BE Smart Hackathon at American Airlines HQ

The hackathon is presented by BLACK ENTERPRISE, a leading Black-owned digital media brand dedicated to providing business, investment, and wealth-building resources for African Americans. Scheduled for this Thursday to Sunday, it will provide students with mentorship opportunities while showcasing their technical skills to the airline and its technology partners—resulting in potential job offers.

Students from 25 historically Black colleges and universities will be heading to Dallas-Fort Worth this week for the 8th Annual BE Smart Hackathon hosted by Fort Worth-based American Airlines.

The event is presented by BLACK ENTERPRISE, a leading Black-owned digital media brand that’s dedicated to providing business, investment, and wealth-building resources for African Americans. The hackathon is scheduled from Thursday, Nov. 2, to Sunday, Nov. 5, focused on the theme “All Code No Switch.” 

“As the technology industry continues to evolve, the demand for skilled professionals is higher than ever, and BLACK ENTERPRISE recognizes the importance of nurturing the talent that already exists within HBCUs,” President and CEO Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., said in a statement. “This event, in partnership with American Airlines, is a testament to our unwavering commitment to fostering diversity in the tech industry and ensuring that HBCU students have access to the opportunities and mentorship they need to excel in their careers.”

The hackathon will take place at American Airlines’ headquarters near Dallas Fort Worth International Airport.

Lasting connections, mentorship, and a showcase for technical skills

The 180 students represent HBCUs from across the country. Schools including Alabama State University, Edward Waters University, Florida Memorial University, Norfolk State University, Philander Smith University, Rust College, and Talladega College are joining for the first time, and Spelman College is returning after a short hiatus, organizers said.

The hackathon enables the students to forge lasting connections, access mentorship opportunities, and enrich their résumés with meaningful experiences. It’s a platform for participants to engage in friendly competition and an opportunity to showcase their technical skills and gain practical knowledge in utilizing emergent APIs.

With 36 participating teams, the students will be evaluated on their app’s viability, practicality for end-users, and the efficiency of the technological infrastructure.

HBCUs participating in BE Smart Hackathon

Here are the schools whose students will be participating:

  • Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University
  • Alabama State University
  • Benedict College
  • Bethune-Cookman University
  • Dillard University
  • Edward Waters University
  • Fisk University
  • Florida A&M University
  • Florida Memorial University
  • Grambling State University
  • Howard University
  • Jackson State University
  • Johnson C. Smith University
  • Morehouse College
  • Morgan State University
  • North Carolina A&T State University
  • Norfolk State University
  • Philander Smith University
  • Rust College
  • Southern University and A&M College
  • Spelman College
  • Talladega College
  • Tennessee State University
  • Tuskegee University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana

Students recruited for job opportunities

Cedric Rockamore, chief diversity officer at American Airlines, said the event plays an important role in promoting education at HBCUs.

“American Airlines is proud to support the BE Smart Hackathon and play a role in fostering the next generation of tech leaders,” Rockamore said in a statement. “We believe in the talent and innovation that these students bring to the table, and we’re excited to provide mentorship and career opportunities. This event is a testament to the power of diversity in driving technological advancement and we’re honored to be a part of it.”

BE Smart Hackathon participants are recruited annually for internships and full-time job opportunities at American Airlines and its technology partners.

During the 24-hour hack, American Airlines will provide technical staff to mentor each team. The mentors will aid teams in overcoming obstacles and guide them in preparing and delivering their presentations to the judging panel.

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