Five students were faced with the ultimate learning challenge last fall: create a web-based application that matches entrepreneurs willing to mentor new entrepreneurs. But they didn’t have a semester; they had one weekend. 

They wound up doing well: they brought home a first-place trophy and bragging rights from Code-A-Thon 2019, a unique competition hosted by the Kansas City Federal Reserve. 

The team was comprised of CIS majors David Sexton of Carthage, Missouri; Devon Tinsley of Pittsburg, and Chris Evans of Nevada, Missouri; Graphics Communication/Web Design major Lydia Winters of Pittsburg; and CIS and Graphics Communication/Web Design major Aubri Stahl of Pittsburg.  

To complete their entry, they collaborated with each other and with their instructor, John Kuefler, who teaches in the Kelce College of Business at PSU and owns DevSquared at Block22 in downtown Pittsburg.  

Each student contributed expertise, from coding on the back end to using graphic design and layout skills to make it aesthetically pleasing.  

After being chosen as one of the top three finalists, they made a final pitch to a panel of judges in Kansas City and were named “University Champion” — an award given to the university whose faculty/institution demonstrates the highest level of engagement.  

Kuefler said it’s encouraging to see that students who soon will enter the workforce are so well prepared. 

“We need people like this in the IT/programming field now more than ever,” he said. “With as difficult as it is to find/hire them, especially in this area, it was great to see five people who I feel like I could be comfortable hiring at some point if needed.”  

In fact, most of the students have job offers or jobs already, even before graduating. 

“I think all of that is a testament to the kinds of experience we are providing students here at Pitt State,” Kuefler said. “These students certainly don’t need to do this Code-A-Thon to have stacked resumes; they’re all already incredible. They want to go above and beyond and show everybody what they can do and represent Pitt State because that’s the kind of people they are.”