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Two H&R Block engineering teams named finalists at ‘Hack Midwest’ coding competition

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August 08, 2022

Software engineers create and develop apps in 24-hour contest

KANSAS CITY, MO. (August 8, 2022) – More than 300 people gathered in the lobby of a downtown Kansas City office building to spend a summer Saturday creating, collaborating and solving problems with tech. Three software engineering teams from H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) entered the competition representing all levels of experience and expertise. Each team was tasked with developing apps that deliver creative solutions to problems in a variety of sectors, including finance, health care, manufacturing, transportation, and more.

“I’m blown away by the resiliency our teams displayed, developing their apps in just 24 hours at this competition. Our associates demonstrated technical talent and creative thinking skills in unique and thoughtful ways.” said Alan Lowden, Chief Information Officer for H&R Block. “I am proud of our participants and can’t wait to see how they continue to build upon these ideas in the workplace and beyond.”

The Penny Pinchers app, created by an H&R Block team, earned high ranks from competition judges and was a runner up to winning the competitions’ top $10,000 prize, sponsored by H&R Block. The app allows users to compare savings for events or big-ticket items, taking into consideration item prices, coupons, gas prices and cash back rewards from various payment methods. The algorithm behind the app aggregates these factors to help users maximize savings and ‘pinch pennies’ at a time when inflation is hitting many families hard.

“Reaching the finalist group was the highlight of this experience. Competing in Hack Midwest really showed the power of having a fully stacked team made up of not only engineers, but also developers, designers, product teams and other skillsets all working together towards a common goal. I look forward to taking this lesson back to Block and working more collaboratively across disciplines within the tech organization.” said Bob Crawford, lead software engineer at H&R Block.

Another team from Block was named a finalist in the competition for creating an app called Happy-Home 360.  The technology behind this app predicts a person’s level of happiness upon purchasing a home based on a combination of factors within nearby communities including schools, hospitals, worship places, parks, crime rate and more.

“Competing in Hack Midwest was an incredible experience and unique opportunity to learn new coding techniques and increase awareness of the various skills that exist in the industry,” said Sitarama Marni, principal software engineer at H&R Block. “We believe in the app we created and will continue to enhance its capabilities to project future demands by introducing self-learning machine learning modules, and other features,” he explained.

A third team from Block impressed competition judges by building a Covid-19 care application to help with locating health services after contracting COVID-19.  The app allows users to select from three different pages, fed by three government APIs, within the app to see a lists of locations in their city which have therapeutics, hospitals equipped to treat COVID-19 and testing locations.

“For me the competition was memorable and fulfilling because it gave us the opportunity to create a software from the ground up over a very short 24-hour time span. I thought it was really awesome being able to see the other talented attendees show off their work as well. I enjoyed getting to network with different people and make more connections within Block,” said Bryn Smith, associate software engineer at H&R Block.

Hack Midwest closely mirrors the culture of innovation at H&R Block. Participating in this event helped showcase the talents of the company’s skilled engineers and developers giving them a grand stage to display their expertise. H&R Block is currently exploring ways to continue the momentum sparked by this competition. Look out for upcoming events and learnings to keep these great ideas rolling throughout the company.


About H&R Block

H&R Block, Inc. (NYSE: HRB) provides help and inspires confidence in its clients and communities everywhere through global tax preparation services, financial products, and small-business solutions. The company blends digital innovation with human expertise and care as it helps people get the best outcome at tax time and also be better with money using its mobile banking app, Spruce. Through Block Advisors and Wave, the company helps small-business owners thrive with innovative products like Wave Money, a small-business banking and bookkeeping solution, and the only business bank account to manage bookkeeping automatically. For more information, visit H&R Block News or follow @HRBlockNews on Twitter.