ARboretum, GeneShield Win Sixth HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge

HUNTSVILLE (March 6, 2023) – More than 50 high school, college and professionals spent the weekend of March 3-5 participating in the sixth HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge, presented by LatchBio.

The HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge, or HATCH, is a life sciences hackathon where participants compete to solve real-world issues faced by biotechnology researchers and innovators in genomics, genetics, and bioinformatics.

GeneShield won the high school division. The team consisted of members Eugene Park, William Mitchell, Jacob Shumer and Uriah Chumpitaz of the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering in Huntsville, and Katherine Allen of Pope John Paull II Catholic High School in Huntsville. GeneShield built a platform designed to secure and protect genomic information as the winning entry.

ChromoZone placed second for its work in the tech challenge. ChromoZone was composed of Marcel Burque, Justin Bruner, Libby Freeman and Rachael Davis of Houston Academy in Dothan and homeschool student Caleb North of Enterprise.

ARboretum won the College/Professional division. The team consisted of Mia Kotalik and Ethan Rush of Northeastern University in Boston, Mass., and Karl Kotalik. ARboretum built an iOS/Android and PC application to enhance learning and engagement in the field of botany.

Scriptor, a team made up of Andrew Dineo of MakeItHackin, Jacob Birmingham of Digiflight Inc., and UAH students Molly Reeves and Will Freeman placed second. Anthony McGee, a student at Alabama A&M, placed third with his project The Researcher.

The event was held on the HudsonAlpha campus in the Paul Propst Center. Participants competed for the chance to win more than $5,000 in cash and prizes in two categories, High School and College/Professionals.

HudsonAlpha hosted the event in conjunction with Urban Engine, a Huntsville-based nonprofit that specializes in innovation programs including hackathons and workshops for local entrepreneurs.

The goal of the HudsonAlpha Tech Challenge is to inspire creativity through collaboration and energize the current and next generation of problem-solvers to conceive and construct innovative solutions to biotech challenges.

About HudsonAlpha: HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a nonprofit institute dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, learning, and commercialization. The HudsonAlpha biotechnology campus consists of 152 acres nestled within Cummings Research Park, the nation’s second-largest research park. The state-of-the-art facilities co-locate nonprofit scientific researchers with entrepreneurs and educators. HudsonAlpha is a national and international leader in genetics and genomics research and biotech education and fosters more than 50 diverse biotech companies on campus. To learn more about HudsonAlpha, visit

About Urban Engine: Urban Engine propels the growth of Alabama’s economy by connecting aspiring entrepreneurs and established business leadership to educational resources, talent, and community. Urban Engine contributes heavily to Alabama’s innovation ecosystem by cultivating a dynamic workforce, professional development through creative autonomy, and the entrepreneurship gumption to launch and build thriving businesses. Founded in 2015 through its various programs and events, Urban Engine activates its mission by offering over 150 free innovation education events annually including CoWorking Night, 32/10 and OpenHuntsville that focus on high-growth technology startups, professional workforce development, and innovation competitions. Urban Engine is registered, IRS Designated 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization.