The second iteration of HackGT took place in the Klaus computing complex last weekend to a slightly damp but enthused crowd. Despite only having been started in 2014, the hackathon hosted a total of about 1,000 participants — roughly half of the applicant pool from Tech and the surrounding area. Hackers attempted to code a project to be presented and were judged at the end of the event.
Registration began at 4:30 p.m. on Friday in McCamish Pavilion. Hackers would then sit down to view a series of presentations from sponsors and event organizers that served as an opening ceremony of sorts. These included descriptions of prizes for winners of the hackathon, the top tier of which was awarded round trip tickets for the entire winning team to any destination in the world.
Following the presentations, which wrapped up around 7:00 p.m., hackers trekked towards Klaus. Hackers engaged in the usual dash to snatch up prime hacking real estate; fortunately, chaos levels were low due to the fact that many participants had not arrived or registered yet. Hacking did not officially begin until 9:00 p.m. Friday night, so participants had the chance to experience the first offerings of the much-anticipated around-the-clock food service. Lines were initially very long, mostly because only one food truck was present and operating at the time. This issue turned out to be mainly resultant from the fact that most hackers desired to eat shortly after setting up their stations.
There was some unrest among hackers over the perceived shortage of vegetarian options. Attempting to remedy this, one of the event organizers placed an order to CookOut for 400 cheese quesadillas. However, it was later discovered that he had placed the order to a store location in South Carolina as the phone number listed on the Yelp page he used was incorrect. Allegedly, the quesadillas were stranded in South Carolina.
A number of complaints were also heard from participants in various areas of Klaus, with the majority citing that the temperature was either too hot or too cold.
Another major point of focus throughout the weekend was the variety of sponsors present during the hackathon. Members of the sponsor team were effectively company representatives, and large corporations including Apple, Delta and Microsoft were present. Hackers networked with members of the sponsor teams and received coding help as well. Many of the sponsors also had free trinkets to give away.
Hackers seemed to be generally pleased and impressed with HackGT, despite some of the hurdles.
“This is my first hackathon, so I’m just here to see what it’s all about,” said Eric Schurdall, an ECE major from Virginia Tech. “I’m messing around with Unity and the [Electronic Arts] APIs that they were handing out earlier just to have some fun.”
“We’re working on an app that crowdsources ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers for certain events,” said Andrew Kerr, a software engineering major from the University of Florida. “All in all, it’s been a pretty fun weekend. It’s inspired me to try to participate in more hackathons.”
“What we came up with is an app called Marco Polo,” said Jay Devanathan, a second-year CS on his team’s project. “Essentially you are sharing your location, and you ask your friends to share their location. The app will figure out a coming point where you can meet.”
“I think [HackGT] is pretty cool,” said Jatin Nanda, a second-year CS also on Devanathan’s team. “Nice environment, lots of food [and] the sponsors are really enthusiastic.”
At the end of the event, winners were announced. The first place hack was “BreadCrumbs,” created by Shashank Khanna, Takashi Wickes, Parav Nagarsheth and Jehoshaph Akshay Chandran.