Thinking Big Through Hackathon

J.B. Hunt’s annual Engineering and Technology Hackathon event drives innovation.

J.B. Hunt is known for finding new ways to change the industry and create the most efficient transportation network in North America. We have a longstanding tradition of innovation, and events like our Hackathon competition help us keep our sights set on changing transportation for years to come.

We recently held our sixth annual Hackathon, a competition hosted by our Engineering & Technology department that’s centered around business innovation and developing solutions that directly contribute to our company’s growth. Keep reading to learn more about this year’s event, and how Hackathon greatly impacts the success of our people and J.B. Hunt.

What is Hackathon?

During Hackathon, participants form teams to collaborate and leverage engineering, technology and data to come up with groundbreaking, inventive ideas that drive J.B. Hunt’s future success. Teams submit their ideas for judging and the opportunity to win cash or fun prizes, with a select few making the final round where they present their ideas to J.B. Hunt leadership.

“Hackathon was such a great experience! I learned so much, and I would encourage everyone to participate at least once,” shared Jennifer, a user experience designer and member of team Automata Theory, who placed third in the competition. “What do you have to lose? You’ll learn something from the experience, you have the possibility of winning fun prizes along the way, and maybe even some cash. That’s a win-win to me!”

Hackathon is not only for Engineering & Technology employees – participation is open to all J.B. Hunt employees and contractors with a big idea!

Fueling Our Spirit of Innovation

The ideas presented through Hackathon have a great impact on our company. By encouraging employees to think outside of the box, we identify and often implement cutting-edge solutions, new technologies, or innovative product ideas that benefit our company, our customers and our success in the long run.

“Hackathon betters J.B. Hunt as a company by amplifying the ideas and creativity of our employees,” said Madeline, a data scientist and member of the first-place team, The Hack(h)ers. “It allows many different areas of the business to come together and create solutions that might not have been tackled otherwise.”

Impacting Careers

Hackathon is just one of the many ways we encourage our employees to think big and take advantage of professional development opportunities outside of their everyday roles. This event gives employees the platform to drive our company’s future while networking with fellow employees and J.B. Hunt leadership.  

“Hackathon is a great way to communicate and learn with other folks,” shared Mahi, a software engineer who competed on the second-place team, The Internationals. “It offers opportunities to sharpen your technical skills. Not only does it give a great boost to your career, but it also provides other teams and management the chance to notice your talent.”

The 2021 Big Hat Hackathon

This year’s Hackathon competition, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was themed “Big Hat” as a nod to our founder, Johnnie Bryan Hunt, who was known for dreaming big himself. Participants were challenged to channel the innovative spirit of Mr. and Mrs. Hunt to develop ideas that could move our company forward.

We had quite the turnout this year – 356 people registered for the event, forming 44 teams with 29 different ideas overall submitted for preliminary judging.

Meet This Year’s Winning Team

Overall, nine teams made it to the final round at this year’s event, where each team was given the opportunity to present and demo their project to members of J.B. Hunt’s leadership team. While we can’t share details around the great ideas shared during Hackathon, we are proud of everyone who participated and shared ideas that have the potential to push the transportation industry forward.

The Hack(h)ers, an all-female engineering team, took first place at this year’s Hackathon. The team was made up of women in Engineering & Technology representing a variety of career types, from software engineers to data scientists. The Hack(h)ers won the $5,000 grand prize for finishing first overall.

“I was personally inspired to see so many creative and impactful ideas during the final round of presentations,” said Lauren, a logistics engineer and member of The Hack(h)ers. “The opportunity to present to [leadership] and hundreds of people around J.B. Hunt made me feel so lucky. What really took the cake for me, though, was the experience of Stuart Scott [CIO] announcing my team as the winner of Hackathon. I’m going to cherish that memory for the rest of my life.”

Congratulations to team members Crystal, Madeline, Lauren, Alex and Ruth! Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Hackathon and made it a huge success.

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Interested in exploring jobs within Engineering and Technology at J.B. Hunt? Search jobs to find the position that best fits your passion or interests and apply today!

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