Fresno State will host more than 100 students from community colleges and universities across the state at the third annual HackFresno, a 24-hour collegiate hackathon in which teams will develop their ideas into working prototypes based on four core themes: education, health and wellness, environment and agriculture and social good.
HackFresno runs from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, Feb. 23 to 24, at the North Gym (Room 118) at Fresno State.
The five-person teams will be judged by industry professionals on their ideas, technical quality, presentations and pitches. Meals and snacks will be provided. The budgets for the prototypes are small, as students will arrive with only a laptop and be provided basic equipment and tools.
The event is free and open to college students age 18 and older regardless of experience or skill. Participants can register at HackFresno.com or at the door.
Shady Nicolas Misaghi, a Fresno State media, communications and journalism student, participated in her first hackathon this past year. Her team won in the social good category.
“We had the idea for a social media app to share messages of love and support with your friends and family when they need them the most,” Misaghi said. “I was the only non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) major participating. I initially felt intimidated, but a few hours into the competition, I had already made a lot of friends and learned many interesting things. If, in the beginning, someone told me that I would end up winning one of the categories, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
Put on by the University’s Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers club and the College of Science and Mathematics’ Computer Science club, the overall goal of the event is to give students the opportunity to collaborate on a project involving computer coding. It provides students with real-world experience working on a team under tight deadlines and high pressure, while connecting with companies in the technology industry.
Students will also have the opportunity to participate in workshops and learn from guest speakers like Max J. Tsai, innovation architect and coordinator of digital transformation at Fresno State.
“Real-world problem solving is what innovators do every day,” Tsai said. “With the new era of smart anything, embracing the digital transformation trends in education, health and wellness, environment and agriculture and social good will continue to improve the way we live from ‘farms to forks.’”
He will discuss the launch of Fresno State’s Project Ignite — a campus-wide technology innovation competition taking place April 22 through 30.
“Innovation is a hot buzzword in higher education,” Tsai said. “Project Ignite and HackFresno share the same vision of engaging a campus culture of innovation that encourages students to explore, evaluate, potentially fail and hopefully succeed.”
“Participating in HackFresno 2018 was an unexpectedly amazing experience,” Misaghi said. “Being in a room full of people trying to make something under time pressure is extremely exciting and it stimulates your problem solving skills and creativity.”
Orlando Leon, Fresno State’s chief information officer, serves as the adviser for the student-run event. Fresno State’s Technology Services, Lyles College of Engineering, Root Access Hackerspace, Project Ignite, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers club, Computer Science club and Associated Students, Inc. coordinated the event.
Sponsors include DPS Telecom, Forward Advantage and Bolted.io.