HackingEDU Education ‘Hackathon’ to Hit San Francisco


HackingEDU's first education-themed Hackathon will be held this October in San Francisco, and if the results of its Training Day are anything to judge by, it will be a smashing success.

Over 1,000 young hackers will be coming from all over the nation for the Hackathon. Most are college students, but the event is open to everyone. The goal is to improve higher education using technology while also competing for more than $100,000 in prizes.

A "hackathon" is a multi-day event in which computer savvy participants collaborate on projects, usually focusing on a particular problem or theme, and involving competition. The resulting solutions include websites, apps, and robots.

HackingEDU was founded during the Google Summit in the summer of 2014, writes Matt Hunckler of Forbes. It's still run by its three co-founders, Alex Cory, Kirill Satanovsky, and Jackie Zhang, who are all either students or who consult in higher education. At the summit, 11 students from various west coast universities were challenged to put on hacking events at their schools, but these three had something bigger in mind.

Will Schmidt of Tech.com quoted Satanovsky on the need for solutions in the education sector:

Education is broken. Who better to fix it than those directly affected? I love the idea of empowering students to change the system from within.

Education is more than just public schooling, it's a right. You shouldn't have to spend money on antiquated institutions who will teach you skills you can't apply or not the right skills you need. Not everybody is Peter Thiel– what about all the other bright kids who don't learn well in the traditional school systems? How do they learn new skills? How do they connect? We're empowering DIY learners. We want to be the central place for people who are passionate about education.

Recently, HackingEDU held a Training Day at PayPal Town Hall (the company's headquarters), in which attendees could interact with the sponsors and their technology. It was intended to be a small event, but ended up with 1,500 sign-ups and 400 in actual attendance. Attendees got hands-on training with 12 workshops from major tech companies like Chegg, IBM, Automattic, Twilio, and Google, according to Satanovsky, Chang, Tigga, and Minjares on Medium. The concluding keynote was given by the founders of Twitter Bootstrap and Socket.io.

Jacob Thornton, founder of Bootstrap, emphasized the importance of teamwork, saying:

It's like running a relay race or marathon. You are going to run out of energy unless you pass the baton to your teammate. … Sharing your experiences with people around you and having people to pick you up when you are down and having people to enjoy your positive experiences is the best.

The event also featured an ice cream bar, live music DJed by a UC Davis student, and cake surprises for a few attendees whose birthdays fell on Training Day.

The Hackathon will take place October 23-25th at the San Mateo Event Center in San Francisco.

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