Friday, December 18, 2015

[262] Hack-MT title sponsor LeanKit elevates MTSU computer science partnership

MURFREESBORO — MTSU’s computer science program has been so influential in shaping the careers of Chris Hefley and Amy Henderson they continue to return the favor as alumni.

Hefley, CEO of fast-growing software development company LeanKit in Franklin, Tennessee, and Henderson, who became LeanKit’s director of organizational development focusing on recruiting earlier this year, serve on the MTSU Computer Science Advisory Board.

This fall, LeanKit emerged as title sponsor for the Jan. 29-31, 2016, Hack-MT, a high-intensity, 36-hour event that will be held in the Science Building.

Hack-MT will gather software developers, visual designers, programmers and computer science students from area universities, including MTSU, to form teams to invent new Web platforms, mobile apps and electronic gadgets.

“Hackathons are a great way to identify talented and self-motivated engineers and designers,” Hefley said. “We’re looking forward to working side-by-side with computer science students during Hack-MT.”

“MTSU is where I and 23 other LeanKit team members got their start,” he added. “We see our Hack-MT sponsorship as a way to support a new generation of computer science students entering the workforce.”

Earlier this year, LeanKit bought Firefly Logic, which was co-founded by Henderson in 2004. Firefly was known for its team of software programmers. Its clients included Microsoft, Xamarin, Travelocity and the Country Music Association.

Henderson said “hackathons” such as Hack-MT allow team members to share knowledge and improve teamwork skills.

“We use the hackathon concept at LeanKit to help us come up with new products and features,” she said. “It’s fun for the teams to brainstorm ideas, build them out and then come back together for demos and presentations. We’re looking forward to bringing that same level of positive energy and supportive attitude to Hack-MT.”

The growth rate in software developer jobs in Tennessee “is one of the largest in the nation,” said MTSU’s Dr. Chrisila Pettey, chair of the largest computer science department in Tennessee with more than 400 majors, an outstanding computer science graduate program and participation in the computational sciences doctoral program.

“And the number of job openings is greater than the number of students graduating from universities in the Midstate area,” Pettey added.

“We need for graduating students to feel like Tennessee is the place to stay because they’ve made connections with industry professionals. The interaction between industry partners (including LeanKit), our students and other Midstate university students through Hack-MT is a chance for networking and community building in a really fun environment.”

A number of LeanKit staff will participate in Hack-MT, which has more than 100 people registered, said Pettey, who expects a capacity of 300 participants by the Jan. 15 deadline.

Other universities with students participating include Belmont and Fisk in Nashville. Pettey said Glenn Acree with the TN STEM Innovation Network has reached out to Lipscomb, Vanderbilt, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee State and UT-Chattanooga.

In addition to host MTSU and the TN STEM Innovation Network, the event is a collaboration with Hack Tennessee, whose founders “have hosted more than 20 hack-a-thons locally to “ensure the success and broad reach of our first event,” Pettey said.

For more information, visit

LeanKit is a software development company whose mission is to “help teams actively work together to deliver customer value faster — building business fitness and strength from within.”

LeanKit is an enterprise lean process and work management software provider. Their products and services enable teams of all types and across all levels of the organization to apply lean management principles to their work.

To learn more about the company — whose 2,000-plus clients include Xerox, CarMax, IBM and Target — visit

By the end of 2016, LeanKit expects to hire 50 more people for its Franklin and the company’s new London office.

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