WKU to host hacking, coding competition

Western Kentucky University is set to host its first hackathon.

Aaron Brzowski, a WKU senior majoring in robotics who is organizing the event, said he got the idea to start a hackathon at WKU after attending several at other universities in and out of state.

“I really enjoy them and I really wanted to bring one to Western,” he said.

A hackathon, he said, is a competition where people get together for an extended stretch of time and work with computer code to solve problems or create new programs.

“You work with hardware and software to make what you want,” he said. “Essentially a passion project.”

Hack the Hill will take the form of a competition with several categories that are being kept under wraps so nobody can prepare code before the event, which will observe a time limit, Brzowski said. Teams can have from one to four members, he said.

Grise Hall, where the event will take place, will open for preregistration at 9 a.m. Nov. 5. Hacking begins at 1 p.m. and runs until 1 p.m. the next day, he said.

Due to daylight saving time, Hack the Hill will span 25 hours, Brzowski said.

Awards will be presented at 2 p.m., giving the judges approximately one hour to judge participants’ projects, he said.

With Hack the Hill running 25 straight hours, not including the judging, there will be an area for eating and separate areas for male and female competitors to sleep, according to Christopher Goulette, a WKU senior computer science major helping plan the event.

There will also be designated areas where participants can take crash courses on computing languages they might not be familiar with, Goulette said.

“We hope that they’ll be able to make some friends and work with programs they haven’t used before,” he said.

While Brzowski said there will be prizes at Hack the Hill, he said he didn’t want to reveal them until the event.

“That’s something we’re trying to keep under wraps,” he said. “We want people to get excited about that when they’re announced.”

So far, roughly 100 students from over a dozen different universities have signed up for Hack the Hill, Brzowski said.

Though he was initially hoping for around 150 participants he said he’ll be happy with 100, adding that a smaller competition field will make running a hackathon for the first time easier. “We’re fine with this,” he said. “It’ll make it easier for this to function.”


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