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Students prepare for annual 24-hour hackathon

More than 600 students from Midwest schools will converge on the Ohio Union this weekend for HackOHI/O 2017, Ohio State’s fifth annual 24-hour hackathon.

Hackathons are app and software creation marathons where student teams go from idea to prototype in a single weekend, solving a problem or meeting a need in the marketplace. HackOHI/O is the largest hackathon in the state.

“[At the hackathon], students will be potentially creating the next Uber, phone device, or app that’s going to blow up,” said Monique Bowman, HackOHI/O branding and outreach advisor. “For them to be able to do it in 24 hours is an amazing feat, and I think for students it’s cool to see something that you may be using in six to nine months.”

In preparation for the hackathon, participating students are encouraged to find a team and come up with an idea before the hackathon starts. There are team formation events before and on the day of the hackathon for students to find team members as well.

After 24 hours of “hacking,” the teams at HackOHI/O will present their ideas to fellow students, faculty, and tech company representatives, where teams will be judged on categories including technical difficulty, creativity, usefulness and presentation.

More than 600 students from Midwest schools will converge on the Ohio Union this weekend for HackOHI/O 2017, Ohio State’s fifth annual 24-hour hackathon. | Credit: Courtesy of HackOHI/O

Dozens of industry professionals interested in the talent and technology on display will attend the final showcase Sunday night, where more than $6,000 in prizes will be awarded to the most innovative team projects.

With this being the hackathon’s fifth year at Ohio State, sponsors like JP Morgan Chase, Capital One, Facebook and Microsoft support this event to get a chance to support the students and to get a glimpse of the Midwest tech talent and culture.

“All of these students will one day go on to build amazing things in the real world,” said Caitlyn Horn, fourth-year computer and information science student and HackOHI/O outreach, marketing, and branding lead. “By fostering their endeavors now, we’re creating a feedback loop of excellence here in Columbus.”

With multimillion dollar corporations sponsoring the hackathon, it can also double as a networking event as well, since past tech students have found employment through HackOHI/O.

“It is [a place] for students to meet people at these companies, and there are some opportunities for participants to apply for internships and even full-time jobs,” Bowman said. “[It’s also] a great opportunity for companies to get their foot in the door on the next hottest thing or the brightest star in tech.”
Because this event is open for public viewing, HackOHI/O’s outreach and marketing team try to make the event as accessible to as many Ohio State students as possible.

“We try to go beyond the traditional attendee, which are computer science majors and encourage students from any major to join us at the hackathon,” Horn said. “A hackathon is a place for informal learning so even if someone hasn’t written a single line of code, HackOHI/O is the perfect place to learn.”

HackOHI/O, Ohio State’s fifth annual hackathon will take place in the  Union from 9:30 a.m. Saturday to 10:30 a.m. Sunday, followed by the closing ceremonies at 2 p.m. in the Union Performance Hall. The hackathon is free admission and open to the public.

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