Student coders gather for Yahoo! Hack Week

Tech’s student hacking community aims once again to take the lead in the Yahoo! University Hack Day event hosted by the Georgia Tech Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). This is the second year Yahoo! Hack Day hosted at Tech.

In last year’s competition, Tech had twenty entries for the hacking competition, while no other school made it into the double digits. However, this year, Carnegie-Mellon had 28 entries, and Tech hopes to over take that number again.

“We’ve been bested [this year],” said Chris Sladky, president of ACM. “Let’s make this year’s event even better than last year’s and take back our position squarely on top.”

The Hack Day week runs this year from Tuesday, Mar. 3 through today, which includes a variety of events centering around different areas of computing and web development.

Various speakers will give talks and demonstrations on various programming languages, application programming interfaces (APIs) and also various Yahoo!-developed technologies.

This year’s Hack Week was kicked on on Tuesday with a launch event in the Klaus building that included a presentation from Yahoo!’s UK Web Evangelist Chris Heilmann, who helped run last year’s event as well as other Hack Week events around the globe.

Heilmann gave a brief history of Yahoo!’s culture and the formation of the Hack Week events, as well as examples of previous hack creations from university Hack Week events.

The Hack Week event culminated with the 24-hour hacking competition, in which student teams are given twenty-four hours to design and build some form of “hack,” be it a web applications or some form of computer controlled web-cam blimp, which was created at one of the international Hack Days last year.

The term “hack” is used in its original definition meaning a clever or innovative solution to a problem, or an otherwise unique modification or invention.

The Hack Day event is not focused on the widely misunderstood popular connotation of hacking related to illegal modification or computer system intrusion.

Tech has a reputation to defend in this year’s hack competition. Last year, current ACM vice president Roger Pincombe’s team won the national University Hack Day competition last year.

The winning hack called DialPrice allowed the user to call a phone number and inter the numbers found on a bar code to get find the range of prices for the product in the user’s immediate area.

There are prizes for the winning teams from each school, which have been generously updated from last year’s prizes. Each member from the top team from Tech gets a PlayStation 3, plus other Yahoo! schwag and goodies.

The launch event on Tuesday was packed, over-filling an entire auditorium in the Klaus building.

“[This year’s event] is shaping up to be an even better Hack Week that our first one last year,” Sladky said.