Students host HackFresno, bringing innovative thinkers to the Valley

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Students host HackFresno, bringing innovative thinkers to the Valley

Fresno State will host 250 students from community colleges and universities from across the nation for HackFresno, a 24-hour collegiate hackathon, running from 6 p.m. April 14 to 9 p.m. April 15 in the North Gym (Room 118).

Participants will arrive only with a laptop and an idea. After forming five-person teams, they have 24-hours to develop their idea into a working prototype based on four themes: education, environment and agriculture, health and wellness, or social good.

“Our main goals for this event are to provide students with real-world experience of working on a team project under tight deadlines and high pressure, connect students with companies in the technology industry, and help increase exposure of our University to the large multinational companies who drive the industry,” said HackFresno lead organizer and Lyles College of Engineering Computer Engineering student, Rahul Nunna.  “We want to give students an outlet to utilize their engineering and computer skills for societal benefit.”

According to Nunna, hackathons have been around for nearly 15-years and have resulted in numerous projects such as software that can track air pollution or an app that can determine if a patient has melanoma on their skin.

“Even the social media giant Facebook’s “like” button was a product of an internal company hackathon,” Nunna said. “The word ‘hacking’ actually refers to collaborating on a task, usually with code, to solve a specific problem. A ‘hack’ is essentially another word for a project-we’re not actually hacking into a computer.”

The student-run event was coordinated by computer engineering and computer science students from Fresno State’s Lyles College of Engineering and College of Science and Mathematics – all members of the University’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Fresno State Chief Information Officer Orlando Leon will speak at 6:10 p.m. followed by Major League Hacking coach Yacoub Oulad Daoud and Chana Messer from Adobe. Throughout HackFresno participants will enjoy music, games, activities and workshops such as “Intro to Hacking” by 59 Days of Code, Adobe XD (Adobe design/prototyping app) by Adobe, “Anyone Can Code” by Apple and “Internet of Things Devices” by OneSense. All meals will be provided.

“We look forward to bringing bright minds together, including industry leaders, for this non-stop innovation competition created for computer programmers and software developers of the like,” Nunna said.

Leon said that HackFresno is the first of its kind for the Fresno area and the University. “Fresno is one of the bright, up-and-coming technology hubs in the nation. HackFresno will provide Fresno State students the exposure and experience to foster technological innovation while bringing creative solutions to real-world problems that our Valley faces. We anticipate that these students will graduate and continue to innovate and become future leaders in Fresno, the Central Valley, and beyond.”

Students will be judged on the idea, technical quality, presentation and pitch.

“Although students will be judged and awarded for their work, our main purpose is to bring them together to work collaboratively on projects they are passionate about and in the end, show them off to their peers and community,” Leon said. “Our hope is that some of these ideas will get attention and come to fruition through our partners and local companies. We also see this as an opportunity for our students to potentially identify future internships and jobs with our sponsoring companies.”

Judges of the event include Pratima Sakinala (Shift3 Technologies), Orlando Leon (Fresno State – Technology Services), Mike Pronovost (Fresno State – Technology Services) and Dant Morris (LinkUs).

Fresno State Technology Services, Fresno State Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and Major League Hacking are event partners. Sponsors include OneSense, Bitwise, Adobe, Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Salesforce, Amazon, LinkUs, Fresno Unified School District, Github, Electrical and Electronics Engineers – Oakland East Bay Section, Fresno State’s Office of the President, Lyles College of Engineering, Technology Services, Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, University Advancement, and Krispy Kreme Donuts.

The event is free and participants can register at HackFresno.com or at the door.

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