To acquire wisdom, one must observe

Brandeis’ Hackathon draws national hackers

After months of planning and organizing by seven students, about 170 hackers, both new and experienced, gathered in the Shapiro Science Center on Saturday and Sunday to participate in the sixth year of Codestellation, Brandeis’ annual hackathon. Registrants included hackers from Johns Hopkins and the University of Southern California, according to Lead Organizer Mitchell Dodell ’21.

The hackathon was an “opportunity to get together with others who share your passion for building and creating technology,” according to the event’s website. The event lasted for 24 hours, and participants were welcomed to stay for the full 24 hours or go home for the night and return in the morning, according to Dodell. Registrants were offered free swag, food and mentorship by company sponsors including CallMiner and Bitmap Technologies. Food from Qdoba was provided on Saturday evening. The hackers organized in teams and competed for various prizes that were provided by sponsors. This year’s event registration was about 300 people, as compared to last year’s registration of 200 hackers. Only about 100 of those who registered attended last year. Dodell said that this year, they encouraged people who didn’t have as much or any coding experience to attend.

Prize categories for the event included Best High School Hack, Judges’ Pick, Best Beginner Hack, Best Hardware Hack, TactileNavi, Best Machine Learning Hack, Best Mobile/Web App by TIBCO, Best NLP Hack by CallMiner, Social Impact Award, SPARK Award and a winner for the Skateboarding Workshop Winner. 

The student organizers were Co-Lead Organizers Adam Fleishaker ’21 and Dodell, Social Media Coordinator and Graphic Designer Cindy Hou ’22, Treasurer Jonah Sanders ’22, Events Coordinator and Sponsorship Coordinator Oliver Daniels-Koch ’22, Secretary & School Outreach Coordinator Prabu Gugagantha ’22 and Social Media Coordinator and Media Specialist Shannon Livingstone ’21. 

“[This year] we have an amazing team of organizers and our biggest focus was on our hackers,” Dodell told The Brandeis Hoot during the event.

He said that the organizers focused on making the event fun for the hackers. The event included many features for participants that wanted to take a break from hacking, according to Dodell. There was a station where hackers could play Super Smash Bros, a scavenger hunt and free Monster energy drinks for hackers that started to get tired. The energy drinks were one of several free products available for participants as a part of sponsorships by various companies. 

Daniels-Koch said that the mentorship that the sponsors provided at the event was incredibly important to the process. The 15 sponsors provided the majority of the funding for the event, according to Sanders. He said that while Brandeis, particularly the computer science department, provide a lot of funding, he would like to see Brandeis give a more consistent amount so that there are fewer funding variables that they have to figure out year to year. According to Dodell and Daniels-Koch, the group is beginning to outgrow the space and ended up using most of the building. 

Dodell said that he’s looking forward to seeing how the event grows in the future and watching as the underclassmen take over.

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