Intern Hackathon Uncovers Unique Industry Solutions in the Wake of COVID-19

Companies respond to crises in different ways. As the coronavirus pandemic gripped the U.S. in the spring of 2020, Alberici leveraged its internship program to generate solutions to challenges it was facing at job sites and offices. The approach was to create a hackathon: a collaborative, fast-paced, and structured problem-solving event designed to channel our interns’ energy into developing innovative solutions. The goal was to “hack the new norm.”

Alberici’s First-Ever Intern Hackathon

The Intern Hackathon challenged 51 interns and their mentors to generate innovative solutions to help “hack the new norm.” Over an eight-week period, Alberici interns split into eight teams and worked together to devise field and office solutions to help Alberici and the entire construction industry adapt to unprecedented challenges presented by this global pandemic.

Each Hackathon team came up with a unique solution and developed a proof of concept, prototype, and test to refine their solution into a final product. During Alberici’s annual Intern Summit, held virtually this year, teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges consisting of seasoned executives from Alberici and the industry.

“Each team did a great job collaborating virtually to produce a group of outstanding presentations,” said Alberici Executive Vice President Jose Garcia-Aranda. “Everyone is a winner through this valuable learning experience.”

TRACE Contact Tracing

While many teams distinguished themselves for innovation, technical achievement, and presentation delivery, one team set itself apart for its unique solution to the spread of COVID-19 on jobsites. Interns Jacob Donaldson, Noel Hernandez, Jon Leonard, Adnan Malkoc, Emily Myatt, Chase Russell, and Zach Willis introduced TRACE, an innovative concept designed to provide accurate, efficient monitoring and analysis of employee movement.

TRACE uses a radio frequency (RF) chip embedded in a hard hat sticker and a web-based app to track positional coordinates and movement, as well as provide analysis of interaction between workers. TRACE maps contacts between workers in the event of a positive case, providing project leadership with invaluable information to determine next steps. It also allows users to quickly locate and identify employees in the event of an emergency and can be integrated with digital timesheet tracking software to provide more accurate tracking of time and productivity.

Following final presentations, a customer executive serving on the Hackathon judging panel reached out to Alberici and requested that the TRACE solution be implemented at its largest construction site. Alberici is working with its customer to deliver this solution by the end of Fall 2020.

“A Great Experience”

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19-and restrictions on in-person interaction, this year’s Hackathon was a huge hit among participants.

“The Hackathon has been a great experience, full of weekly meetings, design pitches, and lists of pros & cons. It’s just like Shark Tank,” said Alberici Estimating Intern Olivia Rowell. “I’m just glad we don’t have to present to Mark Cuban.”