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Penn State Entrepreneurs Conquer Michigan’s “Big House” at MHacks

Last weekend, several Penn Staters traveled to the University of Michigan to compete in MHacks, the largest student-run hackathon in the world. Two of them returned with a $3,500 prize courtesy of the Hearst Corporation, which you may recognize as a major magazine publisher and a 20-percent stakeholder in ESPN.

Penn State students Haroon Choudery and Dan Stepanov, along with Shippensburg student Steve Bussey and Mike Salazar, a high school student, won MHacks’ “Best B2B Hack using a Hearst API” Award for their prototype automotives search engine. The search engine provides details on relative values of cars, fuel economy, and other features of any vehicle dating back to the 1980s. It also lists maintenance and financial information for each car, along with links to any recent articles about each vehicle.

“Winning was an incredible feeling especially with the amount of competition that we faced,” says Choudery, a junior majoring in economics. “Hopefully Dan [Stepanov] and I, along with other Penn State hackers, can use this momentum to make Penn State a threat to schools with bigger entrepreneurial programs.”

Michigan’s entrepreneurial program certainly qualifies as one of those “bigger” entrepreneurial programs, having been recognized by the White House for its excellence. The university itself has embraced entrepreneurship to the point that it hosts its hackathon, MHacks, in the Big House — its renowned football stadium. MHacks, which hosted 1,200 participants from over 100 schools, used the Big House’s stadium suites as hacker space. It even allowed hackers to check out the field.

Perhaps entrepreneurship at the University of Michigan can serve as a model for the future of entrepreneurship here at Penn State.

“Being on the field and in the box at MHacks was an inspiration in a sense,” says Choudery, a junior majoring in economics. “It really demonstrated the impact that entrepreneurship has had on one university.”

Here’s hoping we can beat the Maize and Blue on the field in three weeks, too.

About the Author

Ted Hozza

Ted is a senior majoring in Community, the Environment, and Development, or as his friends here at Onward State like to call it, Architecture. You can probably find him at the Phyrst late at night with other Onward Staters if he's not somewhere else editing articles. You can follow him on Twitter @TedHozza or email him at [email protected]



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