Student Uses Tech Classroom Skills for J.P. Morgan Hackathon Honors, Microsoft Internship

Monday, March 28, 2022
Jackson Shen sitting at a computer.

Computer science student Jackson Shen created a website for a nonprofit organization to earn second place honors in a national Code for Good hackathon. He is planning to have an internship this summer with Microsoft.

Second-year computer science student Jackson Shen used new web programming skills, learned in his Rose-Hulman classes, to earn second place honors in a national Code for Good Hackathon and the attention of the event’s sponsor, J.P. Morgan, and other computing companies.

As part of the competition, Shen created a website for a nonprofit organization. He used software skills learned in an Introduction to web programming class, taught during the fall academic quarter by Olga Scrivner, PhD, assistant professor of computer science and software engineering.

Shen was among seven randomly selected team members that participated in the 24-hour hackathon online.

“This was my first hackathon, so everything was all new to me,” said Shen, who switched to major in computer science earlier this school year. “Since (team members) were online from places across the country, we knew that communication was going to be a key element in our team completing the tasks on time. Really, I think it was the biggest factor in our team’s success.”

He continued, “We decided on what features we needed to implement and made sure everyone was productive through the night with regular check-ins. It was exciting and it was great to get feedback on my contributions (to the team). I’m looking forward to competing in more hackathons in the future.”

Shen’s work caught the attention of J.P. Morgan officials, who extended a summer internship offer with the company’s technology center in Palo Alto, California. (Instead, he will be a software engineering intern at Microsoft in Redmond, Washington.)

“The hackathon was a great experience applying computing theory from class to real-world projects, and I’m really looking forward to this summer’s internship to explore where that knowledge can take me,” said Shen, who is from San Diego. 

And some of that knowledge started in Scrivner’s course that introduces students to creating a variety of web applications, including those for cloud platforms, and static web page creation using current markup and styling languages. Also, students learned client-side programming with modern scripting languages and server-side programming with emerging web programming languages and frameworks. 

“The strong background in project design and technical skills that I gained from that class was a huge factor in how our project turned out,” Shen said. 

Shen is gaining even more skills this spring by learning about operating systems, combinatorics, software requirements in engineering, and theory of computation. He also is enrolled in a deep learning seminar and research laboratory sessions.