‘Into the rabbit hole,’ a creative spin on HackGT

Photo by Jonathan Pennie Student Publications

This year’s HackGT was yet another success with students from across the country coming to participate in the exciting 36-hour event hosted in Klaus. This year’s theme of “Into the Rabbit Hole,” based on Alice in Wonderland, brought an atmosphere of whimsy and wonder to the sleep-deprived event. 

A variety of companies — from BlackRock to NCR to the Walt Disney Company — sponsored the event, which began on Oct. 25  with opening ceremonies, a sponsor expo, dinner and more. 

“We’re all here to learn, create and build a community,” said Co-Director of HackGT Ehsan Asdar, fourth-year CS, during the opening ceremonies. “HackGT is about so much more than just the projects you’ll build at the end of the event. 

“Our goal is to bring you outside of your day to day college life and to bring you into a space where you can explore new ideas, technologies, apply things you’ve learned in your classes and spend time creating something awesome,” Asdar continued. 

HackGT did not just focus on the competition and challenges raised by various sponsors, but also featured fun mini-events and workshops. From scavenger hunts to pride-based events, the weekend offered different opportunities to stay engaged or destress from the competition. An especially popular event included a cup stacking competition. 

In addition to spirited competition, free food and merch, HackGT also provided the opportunity for students to build connections. 

The competition facilitated networking through its badges: instead of carrying around multiple paper copies of a resume, students could simply scan their badge at a recruiter’s booth and upload a copy of their resume. Students were then able to interact with representatives and recruiters from the various companies in attendance. 

However, the presence of bigger companies sparked controversy among some participants.

“With Facebook and Amazon, I definitely was not a fan,” said fifth-year CS Josh Davis. “It made me kind of wary and I’m did not do their challenges because I do not support what they’re doing so I decided to go for my own route and do something creative.”

In addition to company representatives, HackGT also featured public figures, such as Stacy Abrahams and alumni Jeff Crouse. Jeff Crouse took the time to explain his unique career as a ‘creative technologist’ in which he works to integrate art, technology, and expression together. 

“Being the in the room and brainstorming is happening and then doing the actual coding is really important to me,” said Jeff Crouse. “On a lot of these projects, I get to work with other artists and musicians and performers and directors, and I get to obviously play with a lot of toys which is always fun. It can be a positive and a negative as the timeline for my projects is two to three months, so I really only get to focus on stuff for short periods.”

Every year HackGT draws a crowd of over 1000 students, providing both challenging projects for students to supplement their education as well as the opportunity to grow alongside their fellow members of the Tech community.