HackTheU – Largest Hackathon in Utah
November 30, 2017
More than 200 students converged on Rice Eccles stadium Oct. 27 to participate in the second annual HackTheU competition. The two-day event took place at the Rice Eccles tower where over 40 teams battled it out for first place award.
The teams were made up of students from Utah, Idaho and Washington and spent 24 hours developing their solutions to the various prompts through Machine Learning/AI, Games for Health, and other kinds of applications. As part of the event, students had access to workshops on various tech topics present by members from the local industry. This year’s winning teams included an iOS application that uses facial recognition, a neural network that could be trained to understand physical traits, and a search mechanism that could be implemented while using Canvas.
Johnny Le, an undergraduate in the School of Computing, founded the HackTheU event in 2016. Le, a senior in the computer science program, was motivated to start the event after visiting similar hackathons throughout the country.
“I started HackTheU based on a desire to give students more avenues for exposure as well as advancing their careers. HackTheU began as an opportunity to provide students at the University of Utah, and across the region, a chance to not only learn skills but demonstrate them in a hands-on experience,” said Le. “The University of Utah has had talented students every year prove themselves in national competitions so having an event nearby is invaluable for students at varying stages academically as it allows them to delve into topics such as virtual reality, their first mobile app, and machine learning on their own doorstep.”
Le, along with his team of eight other students, manages all aspects of the event. Since it launched two years ago, the hackathon experienced a significant increase in participation — last year’s event had over 300 students register, this year over 500 students. Le believes this is because it is an event for students, run by students, and all of the benefits are for students.
“HackTheU is really quite special,” said U computer science student and HackTheU participant Michael Zhang. “I can’t think of any other event that drives our hacker culture and community as strongly. Johnny and his team have done a fantastic job, and I hope to see HackTheU become an annual tradition going forward.”
Sponsors include Galileo Processing, Goldman Sachs, Instructure, Google, and the Sorenson Center for Impact and Innovation.
Hackathon winners –
More information about the event – HackTheU