HexLabs hosts annual HackGT hackathon

Participants diligently work on their code as they strive for first place. HackGT provides a unique experience for students to hone their skills as they compete and collaborate. // Photo by Anjali Patel Student Publications

HackGT had a successful weekend full of innovation and sleep deprivation as hundreds of students from Tech and other colleges worked together to create projects that showcased their dedication to development. 

The event is a 36-hour, annual hackathon by HexLabs where participants can choose any software, programming language and format to design a project of their choice. 2022 marks the ninth year of the event at the Institute. 

As it continues to grow in popularity, the theme grows in style. The theme for this year was HackGT 9: Retro Reset. 

The arcade-style hackathon served as a way to kick off being back to a fully in-person experience. The coordinators started the event with a skit video of Mario and Luigi as they navigated obstacles (such as getting a CS student to take a shower) to try and save the beloved mascot of HackGT. 

Hundreds of students from all over the world filled the auditorium as the anticipation to start innovating grew more with each second. One could almost feel the hum of excitement in the room.

“The spirit of Retro Reset is all about reinventing the past and bringing your wisdom and newfound opportunities to the future,” Katelyn Provost, fourth-year CMPE and co-director of HexLabs, said as she spoke on stage. “It’s a theme that I’m sure resonates with many of us as things have come back into the light while so much has changed in the past few years.” 

Although the opening ceremony took place at the Ferst Center for the Arts, the rest of the event was held within the walls of Klaus Advanced Computing Building. 

Students were served dinner after the ceremony, but at 9 p.m., the hacking began. Midnight snacks were also provided throughout the event in order to keep the energy of participants up. Once the 36 hours of innovation and creation were over, the judging of projects took place at 10 a.m. the following Sunday.

HackGT is a special event because it serves as a place for people with the same interests to come together and combine their talents. 

With computer science being one of Tech’s most popular majors, there is a large community available for students. 

The only issue is that it can sometimes be hard for these people to connect since it is such a large group.

This year’s HackGT consisted of more than 1,000 students, which is a new record for the event. It was also a partnered event with Major League Hacking (MLH). 

The hackathon is a space for those involved in computer science or other STEM majors to be in their element as they work with others to do what they love. 

HackGT had many large sponsors this year, such as Carelon, the National Security Agency and T-Mobile. 

The diamond sponsor of the year was BlackRock, an American multinational investment company. They serve as one of the world’s leading providers in advisory, risk management solutions and investment. 

Pam Brown, vice president of talent management at BlackRock, visited Tech’s campus to speak at the opening ceremony of HackGT 9: Retro Reset. 

Taking from her experience of hosting the analyst orientation at the company, Brown gave three pieces of advice to the participating students in order to help them on their hackathon and future career journey.

“They are three very simple things that can be very hard to do,” said Brown before she listed them off. 

The advice she gave was to “be open, be honest and be you.”

The Technique asked participants what kind of impact they believed HackGT had on campus and students. 

“It’s a great place to build out code in a short-form way, have people showcase their skills and create more of a community within Tech,” said Adnan Porbanderwala, first-year EE.

With events like HackGT 9: Retro Reset, the STEM circle continues to strengthen and grow as genuine connections are formed and new innovations are produced. 

To all the hackers out there, do not ever worry about being without a community. While large-scale events such as the hackathon may seem daunting at first, the rewards for putting yourself out there are clear to see. Remember, there will always be plenty of “phish” in the hacking sea.