Brandeis International Business School

Celebrating America’s forgotten innovators

In winning DeisHacks bid, Brandeis students propose art exhibit to boost attendance at Waltham’s Charles River Museum

Members of the winning team at the sixth-annual DeisHacks hackathon.

Members of the winning team at the sixth-annual DeisHacks hackathon.

When Roland Calia-Bogan ’25 thinks back to what he learned about the Industrial Revolution in high school, the typical list of tycoons comes to mind.

“A lot of it was from the perspective of the wealthy white men in charge,” said Calia-Bogan, a physics major with a passion for visual arts.

At DeisHacks, Brandeis University’s hackathon for social good, Calia-Bogan and a team of students were tasked with boosting attendance at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham. The weekend-long event pairs hackers with local nonprofits seeking solutions to real-world business challenges.

Their proposal for the museum: Call on local artists to highlight the overlooked immigrants, women and people of color who played a role in America's industrial revolution and innovation economy, and then hold a public art exhibit to celebrate their stories.

“You only really hear about them as this faceless mass,” said Calia-Bogan, whose team won the top prize for best overall hack. “That’s what we wanted to focus on.”

Now in its sixth year, DeisHacks drew 160 in-person participants with another 90 collaborating virtually. In all, 33 teams of hackers contributed solutions for a dozen nonprofits.

Arnell Reid ’22, also a member of the winning team, never considered joining a hackathon before DeisHacks. “I’m not a coder,” she thought.

But she was drawn to the event’s mission and signed up at the urging of a mentor. 

“I have a passion to help nonprofits,” said Reid. “There are so many great stories at the museum. There are local inventors not getting enough recognition.”

Reid’s advice to other students who are curious about the DeisHacks experience? Sign up — there’s no coding experience required.

“Win or lose, the organizations will still consider your ideas,” she said. “Either way you get to have an impact and help a nonprofit in the area.”

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