LMU hosted its first annual 'hackathon' on Saturday, Feb. 1 in an effort to encourage students to apply their knowledge to computer programming. The event, which was open to all majors, was hosted by the following LMU chapters: Society of Women Engineers (SWE), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).
“A hackathon is an event where a group of people (or 'hackers') form small teams and collaborate to build a minimum-viable product within a limited period of time," according to the LMUHacks website. Additionally, the hackathon welcomed sponsors from Tech Empower and Mozilla.
The day began at 10 a.m. with an opening ceremony, followed by team building activities. Soon after, a series of workshops commenced which taught the student participants a variety of new skills. Throughout the day, the different teams created projects in the form of applications, websites and more.
The final projects were judged in five categories: Best Freshman/Transfer Student Hack, Most Creative Hack, Best Hack for Good, TechEmpower’s Best Overall Hack and Mozilla’s State of the Internet Hack. The judges included professors BJ Johnson, Andrew Forney, Jordan Freitas and the chair of the computer science department, Ray Toal, sponsor Bijan Marashi, alumni Jay Patel and Ryan Taus, and Teddy Chu and Kevin Metelus, both of whom are sponsors and alumni.
One team, consisting of sophomore entrepreneurship major Briana King, sophomore electrical engineering major Alek Yegazarian and freshman civil engineer major Alghalia Abulhasan, focused their project on Spotify streams and using streams as a means of donating to charity.
“The brainstorming was fun because we started out with a completely different idea, and then it went from one idea to another to the end product. It was also very interesting to learn how to create a website,” said Abulhasan.
In one workshop, called the Basic Web Development Workshop, participants learned about web design. Yegazarian said, “I came here not really knowing HTML or knowing that it’s really like a language. But I got to work with it and that’s how we were building our web pages … It’s really cool –– I want to learn more.”
As the day came to a close, the judges circulated throughout the classroom, examining each project. After the votes were submitted, the teams who won in each of the five categories were called up one by one and awarded their prizes. Prizes included headphone sets, Buddha boards, logic puzzles, Apple Watches, Amazon Echo Dots, gift bundles and an interview for Mozilla’s paid startup incubation with the senior vice president of future products.
“I hope [the hackathon] empowers the students with the tools and the mindsets that they need in order to succeed in their careers,” said lead organizer Adriana Donkers. “Now that they have projects under their belts, they can include it in résumés, they can talk about it in interviews and it looks really good to recruiters,” said Donkers.
“We want the people competing to know that, no matter how little or how much coding experience you have, even with a day’s worth of preparation, how much you are capable of doing,” said Nico Raymundo, a junior computer science major and one of the organizers of the hackathon.
While only in its first year, LMU’s hackathon drew a large crowd of students who all left the event having gained a new skillset, a new passion or a new project which they can further develop.