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Help build innovative CU technology at June 12-14 build-a-thon

by Cornerstone Credit Union League | Mar 25, 2020

What happens when you combine the best practices of a “hackathon” with the cooperative principles of the credit union movement? CU Build, June 12-14 in Dallas, a build-a-thon where teams of 10 compete with technology to create a winning solution that will be taken to market. The event will take place at the Four Points by Sheraton Dallas-Fort Worth Airport North and will include many extensive coding periods and a “Hack Through the Night” all-night session.

CU Build is designed to spark innovation, cultivate learning, and foster development in the credit union system. It is structured to give participants every opportunity to solve real problems and create cutting-edge solutions to lift the technical and creative maturity of credit unions and the communities they serve.

Brad Hickey, manager of application development for American Airlines Federal Credit Union in Fort Worth and president of CU Build, is spearheading the event, which grew out of an experience at an American Airlines’ HackWars.

“We opted for the ‘build-a-thon’ nomenclature since these events have been shown to attract more non-techies to the event, which brings a better balance to the solutions,” said Hickey. “The term hackathon tends to set off alarms for non-techies and attracts almost 90% IT workers, which is cool. But the solutions tend to be more myopic and tech-centered rather than business-focused. We wanted to avoid that, so we branded the event as a build-a-thon.”

Who can participate?
CU Build is open to staff from credit unions on Symitar systems or those looking to convert to Symitar. Not only are programmers needed, but also subject matter experts, designers, and project managers, as well as anyone interested in innovating or designing.

Hickey reached out to his Symitar network and built a volunteer team of about 12 people. "It's like having a dream team of Symitar experts around the country."

The CU Build team has worked steadily on the build-a-thon since June 2019. “A few credit unions have tried their own hackathons and build-a-thons, and a few vendors have tried it, but I don’t think anybody’s tried doing it across the ecosystem, which I think is really exciting,” said Hickey

Symitar, a division of Jack Henry & Associates and a CU Build sponsor, is opening up its platform, data warehouse, API layer, and several other of their programming platforms to equip teams with any system needs. Credit Union Resources, Inc. is also a sponsor, and its IT Consulting VP Idrees Rafiq will serve as a subject matter expert and technical mentor.

The official CU Build team consists of Hickey; Armando Aguilar, systems engineer, American Airlines FCU; Charity LaPonsie, manager of the infrastructure program, American Airlines FCU; John Woodling, information security analyst for American Airlines FCU; Mike Blumenthal, president/CEO of Technology Happens; James Burke-Frazier of Symitar innovation projects; Adele Glenn, vice president, projects and consulting with CUTEK; Joe Knapton, core systems analyst of Educators Credit Union; Ben Maxim, AVP, digital strategy & innovation of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union; Brian Sloan, chief information officer of Pioneer West Virginia Federal Credit Union; and Brenda Taylor, senior core services programmer of Generations Federal Credit Union.

For more information and to register, visit the CU Build website.

Sources: CU Build and Credit Union Times