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New competitors take home CajunCodeFest 3.0 prizes

Experience isn’t everything.

That’s what the innovative teams who took home the top prizes at CajunCodeFest 3.0 Friday evening proved.

First-time competitors Teamwork Solutions Group earned $10,000 cash and other prizes for coding software that could help elderly people live at home safely through the collection and communication of a person’s medical, social and environmental status.

“This is a bit of a surprise,” said Casey Deshotels, president of Teamwork Solutions Group. “We didn’t expect to win. We just wanted to have a good time and make some good connections.”

A part of Innov8 Lafayette, CajunCodeFest is a 48-hour coding competition that seeks solutions in healthcare. This year’s theme was Aging in Place.

This year’s event drew about 50 competitors from 12 states and three countries.

“The Aging in Place theme makes for interesting solutions because it’s really a hot topic at the moment,” said event organizer Andrea Aloisio. “And I think a lot of people are interested in the results of this competition.”

Deshotels and others who work at Teamwork Solutions Group, a Lafayette visual and development studio, partnered with friend and team member Lisa Tabor, a home health care provider, to create the winning idea.

CajunCodeFest founder Ramesh Kolluru, of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, advised the group to follow through with the idea after the awards ceremony Friday evening.

“This is a business idea that could go all the way,” Kolluru told the group. “If you guys stick together, this could be huge.”

The team will pitch the idea during Innov8’s The Vault pitch event Tuesday.

Also among the top winners was a team made up of eighth-grade students from the David Thibodaux STEM Academy.

Along with adult team members, 14-year-olds Daylon Piper, Duncan Summers and Jean-David Comeaux developed ideas and coding worthy of winning the Junior Coder Award and Best Use of Esri Award.

Upon winning the awards, team member Jean-David expressed awe.

“My thought was, ‘Wow, I actually did it. We actually did it. We got somewhere in this in a contest against adults,’” Jean-David said. “The other fun part of the experience was meeting nice people and new people who are in the industry.”

Lafayette Parish School System Superintendent Pat Cooper was most proud of the students because they pursued and entered the contest on their own.

“I just couldn’t be prouder,” Cooper said. “We have some brilliant students here in Lafayette Parish, but if they don’t have an outlet at events such as these, you don’t always know it.”