From classroom coding to the winner’s podium, Ridgeline High School students take first place in annual “Hackathon”


Ridgeline's winning Hackathon team


It takes adrenaline, creativity, and computer skills to become champions in the IT STEM Academy’s annual Hackathon. A team of students from Ridgeline High School took first place in the February competition and were awarded the first-place trophy at their school on April 16th. 


The Hackathon competition is hosted by the IT STEM Academy, a collaborative program between Bridgerland Technical College (BTECH) and local high schools. The competition is a fast-paced, all-day event where participants collaborate to solve technological challenges in a short timeframe. Challenges the student teams had to navigate included computer building, data analytics, and troubleshooting scenarios, which culminated in a final “Capture the Flag” challenge. 


IT STEM Program coordinator at BTECH Matthew Foster explained that the program helps students develop creativity and problem-solving skills, both of which are highly valued in the industry. “The Hackathon wasn't just a competition,” Foster commented. “It was a testament to the dedication and talent of our students, highlighting their proficiency in IT and cybersecurity and underscoring the values of the IT STEM Academy.”


James Boehme, one of the students on the winning team, explained that coursework they completed in their high school IT classes helped prepare them for the various challenges of the competition. “We had to solve a bunch of computer-focused puzzles,” Boehme explained. “Some are specifically cybersecurity-focused, and some are more IT-focused. They break computers, and you have to find the problem with the computer and fix it.”


The Ridgeline students were all smiles as they were awarded the first-place trophy on April 16th. “It's kind of fun to hang out with friends and have a day where you celebrate the work that we've put into this,” Boehme remarked.   


Ridgeline High STEM Teacher Adam Shelton explained that these classes equip students with skills that give them a jumpstart in their careers. “Students graduate with industry certifications that allow them to move directly into jobs that they can work,” Shelton expounded. “Either while they're getting a computer science or engineering degree, or just directly move into the industry and gain experience. The class that we take teaches them how to take care of any PC, any network, and then eventually how to secure networks.”


Another student on the winning team, Eli Bateman, added that the program is a perfect fit for students interested in computers and how they work. “I think it's a great opportunity because you do hands-on material rather than just a lecture,” Bateman commented. The IT STEM Academy has programs in all Cache County School District high schools. Students interested in joining can contact their school counselor or BTECH directly for more information.