CSM Newsroom

Teams Compete for $$ to Develop AI that Assists the Warfighter During Velocity Center’s 4th Hackathon

April 16, 2024

“We are coders and problem solvers at heart.”

Top minds and innovative thinkers recently competed for $12,000 in cash prizes during the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Velocity Center’s fourth annual VelocityX Hackathon – a challenge that required competitors to create Artificial Intelligence (AI) to assist U.S. defense systems against enemy aircraft. Sponsored in partnership with the CSM Velocity Center and the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD), the event saw seven teams battle it out to develop a winning AI-enabled aircraft detection software that supports a Navy-inspired mission. 

The first-place winner in the competition was team Seahawks, comprised of Shameer Rao and Alex Stoyanov-Roberts, who are both Computer Science seniors at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and both of whom plan to pursue a Ph.D. at Morgan State University. They received the $4,500 prize.

“We are coders and problem solvers at heart,” they shared. “We saw the Hackathon on LinkedIn and instantly knew we wanted to compete. We are first timers, but we will definitely be competing in more Hackathons in the future."

Second place and $3,500 went to The Aircraft Detection (and Segmentation) Team, which included coworkers Andre Simpelo, Donovan Lo, Gerald Little Jr., Lusine Kamikyan, and Christopher Vanhook.

Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) employee Dezmon Estep took home third place and $2,500 with “Feature and Edge Contingent Aircraft Classification.”

“In participating in this Hackathon, I had a fun experience and an extremely informative experience,” he said. “I particularly enjoyed learning different techniques and information from both mentors and other participants.”

Finally, fourth place and $1,500 went to father and son Daniel and Maxwell Stine of Team 111%.

During the Hackathon, Charles Rea, the chief technologist and division head for autonomy and AI at NAWCAD, discussed the potential of AI and gave a demonstration of drone tracking technology.

“AI is transforming every aspect of our society,” he noted. “It challenges us to understand ourselves, our world, and our potential. AI is the future and the Navy is shaping it.”

He ended his talk with the reveal that his entire speech had been written by AI.

The teams had two days to devise their solutions, which they then presented to a panel of judges that included representatives from Leadership Southern Maryland, NAVAIR, and the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO). Teams had access to Velocity Center resources as well as Navy mentors who assisted the competitors as they moved through the challenges.

View the Navy's coverage of the event in the video below:

steam-festival.jpgThe next event on the Velocity Center’s calendar will be the Art of Innovation – STEAM Festival, which will bring community members of all ages together for a free event celebrating science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics this Saturday, April 20. The festival will feature hands-on activities and demonstrations; interactive learning about innovative technologies; visual and performing arts exhibits and performances; fun activities and attractions; and more. For more information, visit https://www.csmd.edu/calendar/2024/04/art-of-innovation-steam-festival-20.html

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