Monday, May 16, 2022

JSU Pair Dominate Target HBCU Tech Challenge

 Jackson State University issued the following press release. 

An uncanny passion for programming and college store discounts united Jackson State University (JSU) freshmen Mahlangu Nzuda and Khaylah Rose who recently teamed up to participate in the Target HBCU technology challenge. As part of Target’s Black History month initiative, Target launched a national HBCU technology challenge to provide financial resources to HBCU students and diversify the STEM industry by building platforms and spaces for upcoming bright minds to excel within.

The goal of the Target HBCU technology challenge was to “create technical solutions to real-life projects and problems that Target software engineers are working to resolve while further developing their own technical and professional acumen.” Both freshmen received a cash prize of $3,000 to be evenly split, as well as an Apple Macbook, external monitor, and other financial incentives.

Nzuda, a computer science major and exchange student from Lusaka, Zambia was eager to identify more hackathon opportunities in order to diversify his skillset. Upon discovering the HBCU Tech Challenge, he then went in search of a capable project partner with an equally shared passion for computer programming. He became familiar with freshman computer science major Rose and her outstanding programming ability. Nzuda made the initial connection and they became an unstoppable force.

“I just never walk up at all to speak, but I did some research on her and I found hackathons she had done in the past and competitions she’s done before…I just felt like she would make a good teammate for this target challenge,” said Nzuda.

Equally interested in expanding her skillset, Rose was thrilled to receive an invitation to join the hackathon team. Developing her natural affinity for C ++ coding while in early teenage years, Rose saw the HBCU Tech Challenge as an opportunity to test her current knowledge base by engaging in hackathons that require solution based coding experience.

“I was trying to look for hackathons myself to do this semester since I just took computer science in order to enhance my skill with C ++, so when he [Nzuda] approached me offering the hackathon, I was really excited to meet and work with someone just as passionate about programming,” said Rose, a native of Hollywood, Fla.

The task given as part of the challenge was to develop a prototype/code that improves the shopping experience for Target guests. Reflecting on their relationship with Target as college freshmen, the pair identified a solution that would in turn increase both the college-aged demographic base and generate revenue building opportunities for Target.

“When I moved into the dorms and I went to Target to buy all my college supplies, I told myself, man I wish there were discounts available for college students, I’d say that moment influenced a large part of our project,” said Rose, who was responsible for the visual component of the project and provided experiential wisdom in both programming and demographic targeting.

“For example, the movie theaters, like AMC, have college student discounts. If you have your ID, you’ll receive a discount towards your movie and/or popcorn. So we thought, what if Target does that with their students? We already knew Target has internship and scholarship opportunities, what if we created a one-way hub?”

Transitioning into the next phase of development, the duo decided to layer into their project model a free shipping platform that created opportunities for college students to participate via discount programs. Understanding the importance of being able to effectively market the prototype, Nzuda began analyzing the cost-benefit for Target.

“We kind of had to prove to them that they’re actually generating money with this. We presented the free shipping model for students and developed a website to increase student engagement. College students are a renewable market, so every year you will have more students coming in and others graduating out.” He said.

Developing an invaluable skill set early into their undergraduate career, the freshmen attributed their success to the chemistry established.

“At first when we had an issue we would always try to meet up in person, whether that be the library, dining hall, we’d always eat together…Majority of our problems were always solved together, he did his research and I did my research then we found our solutions,” said Rose.

Rose’s passion for computer programming began as a result of a childhood television show that piqued her interest. She later decided to build her talents by pursuing JSU for undergraduate studies.

“I started programming in middle school after watching this show called ‘Game Shakers’ on Nickelodeon and I saw these kids create this fun cool game, and I wanted to do that…I didn’t want to just create small games, I want to go big so thinking about a career in programming, I came to Jackson State,” she said.



Anonymous said...

Good for them! Way to represent!

More Jacksonians need to use this path as a map to success!

Anonymous said...

Jackson State gets some very good students from all over the country. It's a growing challenge to keep them in a city as crazy as Jackson until graduation. JSU is worth more support.

Anonymous said...

Not interesting or “salacious” enough for the readers KF.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

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Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS