hacKSU hosts 37-hour hackathon


Computer science majors and electronic enthusiasts from Ohio met this weekend for a 37-hour hackathon. Participants discussed their research from the weekend on Sunday, March 10th, 2013. Photo by Emily Lambillotte.

Bryan Webb

Kent State student group, hacKSU, hosted a 37-hour hackathon from 9 p.m. Friday until 10 a.m. Sunday, bringing more than 30 programmers and computer designers to the university from across Ohio.

Camden Fullmer and Daniel Gur, senior computer science majors, along with David Steinberg, senior electronic media production major, led the hackathon with hacKSU, which the three of them formed to help students learn and use contemporary technology.

Jake Tobin, junior computer science major, said that a hackathon is an event where computer scientists, engineers, designers and entrepreneurs get together, break into small groups and try to create projects that could help the world.

“They’re a lot of fun,” Tobin said, “and it’s awesome because it’s really open learning.”

Gur added that at the end of each hackathon, participants present their projects to judges, and those judges hand out first, second and third place awards. The rankings are based on many factors, including creativity and the project’s technicality.

To make the idea a reality, participants take advantage of every minute of the 37 hours. Most teams get very little sleep and depend on one another to complete their projects by the deadline.

“If you have all programmers, you spend your time programming,” Steinberg said. “If you have designers, they’ll spend their time designing elements and whatnot.”

In addition to drinking a lot of caffeine, Tobin said the key to a successful hackathon is planning and time management.

Tobin’s group created an iPhone app called Pocket Change. He said it’s an app that lets users take a picture of coins, and the app calculates the total value of the coins. Although his group received an award for best original idea, Tobin said he goes to hackathons because of the people.

“You have school and you work on projects, do your homework and it’s done,” Tobin said. “But it’s really cool when you actually have a passion for what you’re learning about and then going and actually working with a bunch of other people who are really excited to make something awesome and having that cross collaboration of energy.”

An app called Webacta earned the competition’s first place award. Webacta shows trending images on Twitter in real-time. Users can look up images by browsing Twitter’s current trending topics or by searching any hashtag.

“I think [hackathons] get people really excited that they could build the next big thing,” Gur said. “You come to a hackathon, and your life can change after a weekend.”

Contact Bryan Webb at [email protected].