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2013 Ohio State Hackathon a Success

For the first time on November 2nd, Ohio State hosted a full-scale, 24-hour Hackathon. A “hackathon” is an event in which computer programmers and other software developers collaborate intensively on software projects over an extended period of time. This event hosted 34 teams, totaling 103 participants, ranging from freshmen to post-graduate students, CSE-majors to non-majors. The event kicked off with talks on big data from event sponsors Hortonworks and Teradata. Following the presentations the teams had until the next afternoon, including a “power-hour” at 2 a.m. due to daylight savings time, to develop a software project and present their results in a concluding 5-minute presentation. Judges scored the projects based on creativity, technical depth, challenge of doing the task in a limited time, and the projects usefulness in the real-world. Students were provided a list of “bounties”— suggested project ideas that solved problems at the University Library—and were also encouraged, but not required, to tackle projects involving big data and mobile applications.

The final projects included such broad ranging topics as a suicide prevention app to an OSU-centered facebook called OSYou. The winners were awarded Parrot AR Quadcopters, Nexus 7 Tablets, Sphero robots, Leap Motion Devices, or Arduino Kits. The prizes were provided by Google, Hortonworks, and Teradata. Since some of the teams were smaller than the number of prizes that they could have been awarded, the extra prizes will form “The Hack Library,” operated by the OSU Open Source Club, that will allow students to borrow the devices to build projects.

The hackathon was intended to raise awareness of the technical talent at Ohio State and operate with recent campus initiatives around student preparedness and community building. The event also gave students the opportunity to network with tech companies and receive feedback on their presentations. The hackathon was organized by CSE Assistant professor Arnab Nandi and University Libraries Associate Professor and Head of Research Services, Meris Mandernach.