Travis Fisk Wins Hackathon for Computer Science Nerds
Under a 24-hour time constraint, Travis Fisk, 34, a non-traditional University of St. Thomas student, applied his school-smart knowledge to solve an automation problem at a hackathon and came out a winner.
New Houston UiPath Headquarters Spearheads Hackathon
Hackathons are industry-wide competitions, popular with computer science folks, where you receive a problem to solve in a very short time. UiPath, the robotic process automation (RPA) market leader, sponsored the Houston Hackathon in August.
UiPath, a Romanian-based company whose headquarters is now in New York, just recently opened an office in Houston under the leadership of Marie Myers, the CFO of UiPath. Myers earned her MBA at University of St. Thomas in 1996. Myers initiated the first training program for college students in the United States. The program, called RPA League, is where students took the time to learn UiPath’s platform in order to become RPA developers to pursue careers in RPA and AI. The RPA League culminated with a 36-hour hackathon at The Canyon.
As the largest growing software company in history, UiPath collaborates with health care and energy sectors to automate mundane employee tasks.
“Automation technology will have a major impact on how we work,” Fisk said. “For example, if you teach a computer to do mundane, rule-based tasks, it doesn’t replace a human; it lets that person be more innovative and allows them to focus on something more meaningful.”
Making His Mark by Powering up the Next Generation
According to UiPath’s website, “This emerging technology is quickly becoming the norm, and early adopter developers are at the forefront of automation innovation.” UiPath invited developers, creators, makers, and coders to the hackathon to solve problems push the boundaries of existing tech and power up the next generation of software robots. There were three focus areas – automate school life, automate for a cause and RPA for Fun.
Fisk likes blazing a trail in a new industry. As a former waiter at a fancy restaurant, top bicycle salesperson and a jeweler, he knew he needed a college degree to make his mark. This enterprising student, who will earn three bachelor degrees in May 2020 in Engineering Physics, Applied Math and Finance, teamed up with three other college students from University of Kansas and University of Texas at Dallas. He met his teammates before the event.
His team chose the category Automate School Life and their project was titled “Class Event Creator. “Our team chose to design automation that would scan a course syllabus, pull the due dates for assignments and exams from it and place those dates on a Google calendar,” Fisk said. “What made it difficult was that no two syllabi are the same; so we needed to design a code that could interpret calendars within the documents and practically apply it to a Google calendar.”
“We were successful, within 24 hours,” Fisk said.
RPA League Teaches Platform to Others for Jobs
In addition to Fisk’s team, three other teams were winners in each of the three categories. The winners were awarded cash prizes from a pool of $10,000.
Fisk and the other winners will serve as student ambassadors for UiPath in the RPA League. “One of the barriers of entry into this industry is teaching people how to automate their processes. UiPath has a proprietary platform in the robotic automation process industry. As ambassadors, we help students be aware of automation and set up an RPA group on campus. We help new students learn UiPath’s platform so they can get jobs in the industry.