UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College student winners announced for HIplan business competition

The $2,500 first place prize was awarded to a team of four students from UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College who designed an app that connects community members with skills and materials to rebuild homes that were lost during the 2018 lava flow.

Screen shot of online HIplan competition
UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College students participate in the virtual HIplan Hackathon held April 4-5, 2020. Courtesy photo.

This year’s HIplan competition, where teams of students submitted business plans and vied for cash prizes, moved from a face-to-face event to a completely restructured online event due to the coronavirus. At the two-day event, called the HIplan Hackathon held April 4 and 5, students from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College presented plans for app-based solutions to a real community issue: the recovery efforts around the 2018 lava flow.

First place winners at this year’s competition are the team of Makamae Kamaka-Mauhili (Freshman, UH Hilo, Business and Women’s Studies), Brian McMichael (Hawai‘i CC, Information Technology), Karly Requelman (Sophomore, Hawai‘i CC, Culinary Arts), and Zoe Whitney (Senior, UH Hilo, Environmental Science, Teaching English as a Second Language) for designing an app that connects community members with skills and materials to rebuild homes that were lost as a result of the lava event.

“I am someone who tends to stay in the background, but with my team, I was able to emerge from my shell and share what I thought comfortably,” says Kamaka-Mauhili. “Since it was virtual, in my opinion it was easier for us to work together. The overall hackathon experience really broadened my scope of learning alongside applying knowledge and skill sets to produce a positive outcome.”

Roughly 50 students from both campuses had initially registered for the in-person event, but since many students have returned home or experienced a shift in priorities since all UH campuses moved to online teaching in March, 15 students participated in the online event, logging in from around the globe. Luca Checchia Adell, a sophomore at UH Hilo studying business, participated from his hometown of Valencia, Spain, which meant that he stayed up all night to collaborate with his teammates.

According a media release, the students, with different majors and backgrounds, shared their global perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. Collaborating in teams of three or four students, the groups were provided training in business models and the BizzyB.com collaborative learning platform, and heard a presentation from Helen Tien, instructor of management at UH Hilo’s College of Business and Economics, on the challenges the community still faces from the 2018 lava flow.

The students worked with mentors who shared their extensive knowledge in business and technology to develop the teams’ concepts, business plans and pitches. The teams then pitched their concept and answered questions from a panel of judges.

“The HIplan Hackathon allowed me to practice creative problem-solving and presenting skills that apply to real-world careers,” says Ryen Helzer, a senior at UH Hilo studying geography and environmental science who’s team won second place in the competition. “The opportunity to quickly meet and work with a diverse group of individuals to create solutions is a positive experience for future endeavors.” 

Awards

  • FIRST PLACE, $2,500: Makamae Kamaka-Mauhili (Freshman, UH Hilo, Business and Women’s Studies), Brian McMichael (Hawai‘i CC, Information Technology), Karly Requelman (Sophomore, Hawai‘i CC, Culinary Arts) and Zoe Whitney (Senior, UH Hilo, Environmental Science, Teaching English as a Second Language) for designing an app that connects community members with skills and materials to rebuild homes that were lost as a result of the lava flow.
  • SECOND PLACE, $1,500: Kevianna Adams (Junior, UH Hilo, Chemistry, Psychology), Santos Gutierez (Sophomore, Hawai‘i CC, Information Technology), Ryen Helzer (Senior, UH Hilo, Geography and Environmental Sciences), and Catherine Kane-Paulo (Junior, UH Hilo, Business Administration) for their app named Coconut Grove.
  • THIRD PLACE, $1,000: Luca Checchia Adell (Sophomore, UH Hilo, Business Administration), Casey Chow (Freshman, Hawai‘i CC, Information Technology Services), Kevin Oh (Freshman, Hawai‘i CC, Information Technology), and Jena Shidaki (Sophomore, UH Hilo, Communication) for their Disaster Defense app.
  • FOURTH PLACE, $300: Alan Cincunegui Corres (Sophomore, UH Hilo, Finance), Kapaia‘alaopuna Earle (Junior, UH Hilo, Communication, Hawaiian Studies), and Garnett Stone Jr. (Junior, UH Hilo, Business Administration) for their app called Second Wave.

Judges 

  • Melanie Wilson, Dean of Liberal Arts and Public Services, Hawai‘i CC
  • Steve Sakoman, technology entrepreneur of Steve Sakoman Inc.
  • Chris Rehkamp, former program manager at the Digital Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Maryland

Mentors

  • Sherrie Totoki, Director of Accelerator Operations at Elemental Excelerator, San Francisco
  • Louise Lorton, Americas Advisory Learning Leader, Ernst and Young, North Carolina
  • Phillipe Rosse, RFP Match, North Carolina

Facilitators

  • Mike Nakamura, local entrepreneur
  • Wayne Morris, former technology executive
  • Walter McCoy, retired technology professional

Sponsors

  • Kamehameha Schools
  • Ulupono Initiative
  • County of Hawai‘i
  • UH Hilo
  • Hawai‘i Community College
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