Student participants from around the country will gather Nov. 11 for a 24-hour hackathon to create an app, software or working prototypes of a new product.
Johnny Le, a senior in BS/MS computer science degree in the School of Computing and founder and chief director of the student club HackTheU, proposed the idea for the event after seeing them successfully executed at universities such as Harvard, Stanford and Michigan.
“These hackathons represent an opportunity for students to get first-hand experience, learn skills from industry professionals, and be a part of this culture of innovation,” Le said. “I want to give every student at the University of Utah the opportunities and exposure of any other school out there. I intend to develop the already prominent startup culture that exists here into a name that will be as well known the world over as Silicon Slopes.”
More than 250 students have registered for the free event, and they come from the University of Utah as well as Brigham Young University, Weber State University and Utah State University. Participants also have registered from neighboring states, and even some from Canada.
The David Eccles School of Business’s Sorenson Center for Discovery and Innovation is also helping with the event, through manager Cesar Sanchez, a co-organizer of the event.
“HackTheU is a natural fit for what guides the Sorenson Center for Discovery and Innovations’s activities that help students discover, design and develop. HackTheU competitors will have the opportunity to collaborate on multidisciplinary teams that will create new and disruptive solutions,” Sanchez said. “If you are not participating, you are nonetheless welcome to come experience the process of creating new and disruptive solutions.”
The event will be held at Lassonde Studios, a unique living space with a massive maker space on the main floor for students to create and launch business ventures. Participants bring their own computers, but Lassonde Studios will provide the space and high-speed internet. Throughout the event, speakers will address participants and various companies, such as Microsoft and JayBird, will give away various products, and food will be provided throughout the 24-hour competition.
“Hackathons are incredible events because of the community it fosters and how it is geared toward entrepreneurs, innovators and the future leaders of the world. The most powerful companies in the world were founded by small groups of innovators: Google, Amazon and Apple, for example. They all began in garages. They all were created by programmers with an idea,” Le said. “More and more minds are adopting this culture where everyone has the chance to be an innovator no matter the background. Hackathons are a small example of the trend the world is moving toward, and we’re excited to be part of it.”