More than 500 students will gather for HackPSU 2016 on April 9, moving to the Business Building for the first time. HackPSU is an annual 24-hour student hacking marathon or “hackathon.” Students collaborate, compete, and hack their way through small coding and electronic projects. The term “hack” isn’t nefarious; it’s only used to emphasize the impromptu nature of the building process.
“The way we use the word ‘hacking’ means building something awesome and solving problems using programming, not breaking into networks or wreaking havoc,” said Christina Platt, last year’s co-director at the time. “This is the opposite of the malicious cyber attacks we hear about in the news. The students here are focused on learning, sharing and turning ideas into finished products in just one day.”
HackPSU is organized by Innoblue with support from IST Startup Week, Penn State EdTech Network, College of Engineering, and College of Information Sciences and Technology. The event is also supported by corporate sponsors offering prizes and mentoring to competing hackers. In addition to these corporate prizes, the event’s overall winners will also receive awards.
This year’s event will also introduce a “Club Cup.” Any registered Penn State student organization can enter up to two teams for a chance to win $500 and a pizza party.
Last year’s HackPSU winners were 15- and 16-year-old Mihir Garimella and Stephen Polcyn, who constructed a phone tracking drone called “Presto Findo.”
“I’ve been working with flying robots for a long time. Obviously losing things is a big problem, so we had a concept where we would make a flying robot that could locate things,” Garimella said. “We thought about how we can use this innovative technology and leverage it into a real world application.”
Students can enter the hackathon in teams of up to five people, but those without a team are still encouraged to enter and will be separated into teams at the event. Registration for HackPSU 2016 can be found online.