Sun Devils prepare for innovative, 36-hour hackathon

ASU Software Developers Association will host their first ever Major League Hackathon SouthWest Hacks

ASU students will find technological solutions to real-life problems in an upcoming 36-hour hackathon event on the Tempe campus.

The University will be hosting the Major League Hackathon (MLH) event. Registration for the event is open to students from ASU, as well as those from other universities.

“ASU deserves a hackathon and we’re gonna bring it,” said Nathan Fegard, president of the ASU Software Developers Association (SoDA).

SoDA has hosted and participated in hackathons hosted by other universities in the past, but SouthWest Hacks (SWHacks) will be the first time the organization will host a MLH event. The hackathon will be held on the ASU Tempe Campus Mar. 10-12.

“Hackathon is a 36-hour competition where you can play around with the technology and work on the crazy ideas you have with your friends," Fegard said. “I can not think of anyone who went to hackathon and did not learn anything."

The event has attracted several industry partners, including Google, AllState and Amazon. The sponsors will be present at the event and will be contributing to the learning experience, Fegard said. These companies will also provide recruitment opportunities for the participants.

“Not everyone wakes up on a Saturday morning at 3 a.m. to work on their code,” Fegard said. “It takes some amount of dedication. These are the kind of people that companies wanna hire."

SWHacks is a conference for college students and is free for all participants. Apart from working on leading technologies, SWHacks will also have a lineup of fun events to rejuvenate the hackers when they get tired.

“We understand that nobody can sit and code for 36 hours,” Fegard said. “We are having everything from yoga, karaoke, tech talks and we are also looking into bowling."

Partnering with MLH, which is dedicated to supporting college hackathons, gives SoDA more resources to work with when planning the event.

“MLH is a great resource,” said Thomas Forrest, vice president of SoDA. Forrest is also the point person for hacker experience for SWHacks.

“(MLH) provides support in terms of marketing, industry partners and organizational support,” Forrest said. “They are providing a hardware lab with Amazon Echo, Arduino boards and many others."

SoDA has taken more than 100 students to the University of Arizona to participate in Hack Arizona during previous events, Forrest said. Those experiences motivated students to take up projects out of school.

“We want students to get excited about the technology,” Forrest said. “The big thing for me is to get an opportunity for the students to code and build things out of the classroom setting."

Even though the event focuses on computer technologies, Michelle Capriles-Escobedo, director of communications for SoDA, said the event is open to everyone, regardless of their major, skillset or academic standing.

“We are constantly trying to promote that message,” said Capriles-Escobedo. “At first, (the) hackathon might look like it is open only for experts, but its purpose is to motivate and inspire creativity among students ... so everyone should attend it."

Capriles-Escobedo said ASU is ready for the hackathon. She said she sees a lot of excitement about it among the students.

“I think (students) appreciate the fact that the event is on campus,” Capriles-Escobedo said. “...(ASU) is exploring as a university and organizing, the hackathon is a reflection of that."

Correction: Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article incorrectly cited SWHacks as ASU's first MLH hackathon and has since been corrected.


Reach the reporter at aravind.sreenivasa@asu.edu.

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