CSE student organizations to co-host CornHacks hackathon

Apr 10, 2018      By Victoria Grdina

One CornHacks team presents their project to a judge during the event EXPO.
One CornHacks team presents their project to a judge during the event EXPO.

When junior Luis Ramirez attended HackMIT in Boston two years ago, he was just tagging along on a trip with his friend, junior Brandon Garen. Ramirez enjoyed the experience so much that he changed his major to computer science and attended five more hackathons with Garen over the next year. 

Now, Ramirez, Garen and several members of the CSE Ambassadors and Computer Science Student Advisory Board are teaming up to host the university’s first official undergraduate hackathon, CornHacks, April 14-15 in Avery Hall. 

“After all those experiences, we decided Nebraska should have a hackathon in a similar vein,” Garen said. “At the time, it was the only Big 10 school that didn’t have one.”

CornHacks participants will spend from 10 a.m. Saturday to 1 p.m. Sunday building hardware and software creations of their choice in teams of four. At the end of the weekend, the projects will be presented at an expo event and judged by a panel of student organizers, faculty, and local industry members. 

Members of the student groups began planning the event last fall in the hopes of bringing the positive experiences they’ve had at hackathons across the country to students at Nebraska.

“We wanted to give people the opportunity to attend an event like this without major costs," Garen said. “We want to make sure other people can have the same opportunities that we’ve had when we’ve traveled, even if they can’t travel."

For student organizers, those opportunities have included chances to build up their portfolios, make connections with other students, enroll in specialized courses, and land career opportunities. 

“I reference hackathons in almost all my job interviews anywhere. It allows you to tell an employer, not only do I work on things in class but I also work on things outside of class,” Garen said. “And since hackathons aren’t based upon a job, you can release the source code into the open and then show employers that on GitHub or wherever.”

If the educational and professional opportunities aren’t enough incentive, there will also be $500 worth of prizes given away to winning teams at the event, in addition to free t-shirts and food for the whole weekend. 

CornHacks will be sponsored by Major League Hacking, the official student hackathon league in North America and Europe. The hackathon will also be supported by local tech industry sponsors, which include Facebook, Spreetail, TD Ameritrade, TEAM Software, and Infogressive.

Not only will industry sponsors be supporting and judging the hackathon, but they’ll also kick off the event with demos of their APIs and tools. Students will then have the option to use those tools for their projects and work with the employees from the companies throughout the weekend.

Student organizers hope that the event provides each student with a valuable learning experience they can build on going forward—potentially even with more hackathons.

“We want to show people that, ‘Hey, you can do this in a weekend. What else can do you given two or three months?’” Ramirez said. “Then they can take that to a recruiter or a job and show them what they can do. We just want to develop people’s skills.”

The registration deadline for CornHacks is March 31. To sign up or learn more, visit cornhacks.com. 

More details at: https://go.unl.edu/g3vj