Fresno State will host more than 100 students from community colleges and universities across the nation for the second annual HackFresno, a 36-hour collegiate hackathon running from 9 p.m. Friday, April 27, to 9 a.m. Sunday, April 29, at the North Gym (Room 118).
Participants will form five-person teams and have 36 hours to develop their ideas into working prototypes based on four core themes: education, health and wellness, environment and agriculture and social good. Students will be judged on the idea, technical quality, presentation and pitch. The event is free and open to college students age 18 and older regardless of experience or skill. Meals and snacks will be provided.
“‘Hacking’ is now a common term for collaboration, where some would think it refers to breaking into a computer — that’s not even close,” said HackFresno lead organizer and Fresno State computer engineering student, Sam Clark. “It’s just a really great opportunity for students to build camaraderie with each other, work with new people, against a close deadline, using new skills — all to create something beneficial for the community. It’s performance under pressure, it’s socializing, it’s learning quickly — and failing a lot.”
Clark, also a member University’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers club, is working with his peers and the College of Science and Mathematics’ Computer Science club to make HackFresno a successful event for everyone.
“I hope that HackFresno plays a role in getting Fresno on the map for tech companies,” Clark said. “We’re the fifth-largest city in California, but Silicon Valley isn’t coming to Fresno hiring for tech jobs. I think HackFresno is a great way to shine a spotlight on the hidden talent we have in the Central Valley.”
DPS Telecom in Fresno is one of the sponsors of HackFresno this year and its CEO, Bob Berry, who will also speak at the event, says the concept mimics how entrepreneurs think and behave.
“They take a concept, get to the earliest demonstration of that concept, and try it on real potential users and clients. This creates fast feedback, fast learning and a culture of iterations,” Berry said. “Limits in time, resources and skills combined with the risk of failure in a competitive environment takes this out of academia and makes it so much more like the real world.”
Students participating in HackFresno will be judged by industry professionals on the idea, technical quality, presentation and pitch.
“While the largest parts of our economy are involved with variations, adaptations and scales of efficiency, which is important and required to make our society prosperous, it’s the entrepreneurs that have the ability to create amazing breakthroughs on sheer will and shoestring budgets,” Berry said. “It will be exciting to meet the students that rise to the challenge.”
The budgets for the prototypes are small as students will arrive with only a laptop and be provided basic equipment and tools.
“We want them to be innovative and creative and you can actually do most of that on a computer,” Clark said. “They will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops, sunrise yoga sessions, team-building activities and walk away with free swag and prizes.”
Orlando Leon, Fresno State’s chief information officer, serves as the adviser for the student-run event. Fresno State’s Technology Services, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers,Computer Science Club and Associated Students, Inc. are event partners. Sponsors include DPS Telecom, Forward Advantage, ScripLife, Breadcrumb Cybersecurity, El Portal Pharmacy, Root Access Hackerspace, Fresno State’s President’s Circle, the Division of Continuing and Global Education and the Lyles College of Engineering.
The event is free and participants can register at HackFresno.com or at the door.