Parker Chun ’18 Wins College Hackathon

Parker Chun ’18 and two of his Notre Dame teammates captured the top $3,000 prize at the university’s 2021 Hesburgh Libraries Hackathon, which took place virtually in April.

Seven teams of undergraduate students competed in the two-week event, which challenged students to develop projects that leverage technology to discover, visualize or create connections among people, ideas and data. The submissions were judged based on innovation, impact, usability, technical merit and presentation.

Chun and two other computer science majors in the College of Engineering created “Tether,” an app that helps people organize their contacts, log relevant information about them and set reminders to reach out to them.

“It’s not fully developed yet, but we designed the user interface, coded up the app’s front end and parts of the back end,” Chun said. “We’re currently trying to finish developing it.”

With an interest in product management, Chun said he was told by product managers in the industry that competing in hackathons is a good way to hone necessary skills. “I’d never done one before, but since our school was hosting one, I figured I should try it.”

As part of the competition, Chun and his teammates interviewed their classmates and found out that many were having trouble keeping track of their contacts in a meaningful way. Tether was devised as a possible technical solution.

Chun is now working at Google as an associate product manager. He describes it as a two-year rotational program to develop various products. “I’ve always been interested in tech and business, so I see product management as kind of a center between those,” he said.

Chun said his advice for Punahou students interested in pursuing a similar career would be to start developing things now. “If you have the coding skills, it’s not bad to create a website or an app and go through the whole process. Think of an idea and then talk to your friends, parents or other adults and see what they think about this. Then develop it and test it. If you don’t have the coding skills, you can learn from online resources, work with friends that do have the skills or skip development and just go through the design process. Having any of this experience is really valuable.”

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