The University of Virginia held its third annual hack-a-thon this past weekend from March 25th to March 26th. Hack.UVA is a programming event where developers, designers, and entrepreneurs work in teams to build a mobile or web-based application/platform from scratch.
The event was established in partnership with Major League Hacking and hackerearth. A number of large corporations, including Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Red Bull, Insomnia Cookies, and Swift, helped sponsor the event. These companies aided in funding as well as almost $6,000 worth of prizes. Participants competed with a chance to win one of the twelve prizes given out. Some of the more notable awards were “Best Game Related Hack”, which received an Xbox One, and “Best Use of Kloudless API”, which received a Parrot A.R. Drone.
The three judges for this year’s hack-a-thon were Steve Huffman, co-founder of Reddit and UVA graduate, Amber Karnes, Director of HackCville, and Ben Taitelbaum, Coshx Labs member. Competitors were judged on three criteria: creativity, polish, and technical vigor. For creativity, the judges considered, “Is the hack just another generic social/mobile app? Does it add an element of novelty or a fresh approach to a classic problem?”; for polish, “Is the hack well designed? Usable in its current state?”; and for technical vigor, “Is the depth of implementation within the 36-hour time limit impressive?”.
Although it was just the third annual hack-a-thon at UVa, hack-a-thons are becoming increasingly popular throughout the United States. Hundreds of schools across the US hold annual hack-a-thons, and UVa encourages new hackers to participate in the competition. The hack-a-thon is a great way to integrate inexperienced programmers into the realm of developing and designing applications. One accomplishment of the hack-a-thon is attracting more people into the field, which looks to increase in size in the years to come.