First Research Park Hackathon Paid Homage to Retro Games

Categories : EnterpriseWorks, Events, Research Park
Posted on: July 24, 2023

Ten teams complied of Research Park interns competed in the first UIRP-wide Hackathon.

Five companies participated including State Farm, John Deere, Rivian, Capital One, and COUNTRY Financial.

John Deere data scientist Jarai Carter, PhD, and software engineer James Kabbes created the structure for the event and developed the idea for the prompt. The Hackathon challenge was to develop a retro video game, a nostalgic project close to Kabbes’ heart. 

“When I was 10 years old, my brother bought me a book on learning the Python language by recreating old video games…I thought it would be a great to bring that as a competition to Research Park companies,” – James Kabbes, John Deere Senior Software Engineer

The event kicked off  on Wednesday, July 19 in the morning at EnterpriseWorks, where participants enjoyed a continental breakfast and were briefed on the retro video game prompt.

Teams had until midnight to submit a game and video to the judges. Eight of the 10 participating teams completed the prompt.

Judges included tech professionals Matt Ahrens (NVIDIA), Anna Chi (Brunswick), Ben Kimmel (Cargill), and Jarai Carter.

Games had to include elements of their company and industry.

For example, electric vehicle company Rivian made an adventure racing game where vehicles had to collect batteries along the road. The team incorporated Rivian’s value of keeping the world adventurous with a special feature. 

“One of our main focuses is that you can go off the road and go ‘camping’ and that will also get you some battery,” said Rivian intern Asher Mai.

The judges played the games on Thursday to select winners for six awards. The finalists and winners were announced at the Fire at Five event on Thursday, July 20.

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Hackathon: 

1st Place: Rivian, “Rivian Adventure”

2nd Place: John Deere, “Crossy Tractor”

3rd Place: Capital One, “Capital Clash”

Best Company/Industry Incorporation: Rivian

Most Original Concept for a Game: COUNTRY Financial

Best Gameplay: Capital One

Thank you to everyone who helped to organize and participated in this event.

Watch Rivian interns demonstrate their winning racing game below.