GSU to Host “Big League” Hackathon on March 25–27

Posted On March 19, 2016
Categories Student News

On March 25–27, Georgia State University will host hackGSU, the university’s first “big league” hackathon. A hackathon is a team-based programming competition during which students compete to build software projects, including websites and applications. At the end of the event, teams demonstrate what they’ve built and prizes are awarded to the teams with the best projects.

Organizers are expecting 300 to 500 students to attend hackGSU, which will be held on the concourse level of the Aderhold Learning Center from Friday, March 25, at 5:00 p.m. until Sunday, March 27, at 2:00 p.m.

Students from many colleges have registered for the event, from local schools such as Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia to major out-of-state universities, including Purdue, the University of Maryland, and UCLA. High school students are also eligible to participate. Registration will end on Sunday, March 20, at midnight.

Participation in hackGSU is completely free to participants. All expenses, including the cost of food and prizes, will be covered by the event’s 25 sponsors, with major support coming from General Electric, Invest Atlanta, State Farm, and XYIENCE. Prizes will include drones and gift cards.

The chief organizer of hackGSU is Dr. Erin-Elizabeth Durham, a part-time instructor in GSU’s Department of Computer Science. For several years, Dr. Durham has encouraged her students in CSc 4370/6370 (Web Programming) to enter hackathons as a way to get hands-on experience with coding real-world business ideas. (Dr. Durham herself has worked in the computer field for 20 years and currently holds a full-time job at GE Power & Water.) She believes that hackathons are a good way for students to build confidence and prepare for job interviews.

Dr. Durham has been working on the plans for hackGSU since last September. She has received valuable assistance from officers of the GSU student chapter of the ACM and the GSU student branch of the IEEE, including Dhara Shah, Maryam Jalalitabar, Michael McDermott, and Yi Liang. During the actual event, Dr. Durham will rely on 75–100 volunteers from the GSU student body. Students interested in helping should fill out the volunteer form.

Although GSU has hosted hackathons in the past, this will be the largest to date. It will also be GSU’s first “big league” hackathon, meaning that it is sanctioned by Major League Hacking (MLH), the leading student hackathon league. Each semester, MLH helps organize 150 or more hackathons in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.