Jing Jiang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Participants can stay up for the entire hackathon, bringing sleeping bags with them and sleeping next to their computers in PSB.

September 19, 2019

‘Your Friendly Neighborhood Hackers are Coming to Town’ Cornell Hackathon Kicks Off Friday

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Hailing from an array of universities, about 500 students will flood Cornell this weekend to partake in Big Red//Hacks — Cornell’s oldest and largest annual hackathon.

Kicking off in the Physical Sciences Building Friday, Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. and finishing Sunday, Sept. 22 at 8 a.m., participants will spend 37 hours creating, developing and testing original coding projects — individually or on teams determined at the event. Coding projects must be original and designed completely from scratch at the onset of the hackathon, but students possess the creative freedom to create anything they want.

Participants can stay up for the entire hackathon, bringing sleeping bags with them and sleeping next to their computers in PSB. Big Red//Hacks caters food for the whole weekend, with vegetarian options available as well.

Cornell will dispatch buses to Buffalo University, RIT, Princeton, Rutgers University and Binghamton University to pick up students, while participants from other colleges are expected to arrange their own transportation and receive travel reimbursements up to $200.

Past projects range from an app that tracks the expiration dates on refrigerated food to a product that tracks sea turtle movements and alerts rescue teams if the animal gets stuck on its shell, The Sun previously reported.

Projects this year will revolve around the hackathon’s central theme of “Community Superheroes.”

To give students a break between coding sessions, in order to meet new people, Big Red//Hacks offers non-academic activities throughout the weekend, including hikes, cup stacking competitions, dog petting and ice skating.

On Sunday, participants will demo their projects, and the winners will score prizes from competition sponsors — among them, Wayfair, Chobani, IBM, Google Cloud, Bloomberg, Capital One, American Express and Major League Hacking. In the past, prizes have included brand new tablets for all team members.

Big Red//Hacks marketing director Justin Shillingford ‘20 shared his enthusiasm about what the event may bring.

“The organizers are working hard to make the hackathon as meaningful and impactful as possible for the many students attending,” Shillingford told the University.

Competitors must be 18 years old and enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate university. While it may be helpful to have some coding knowledge, past experience is not required. Cornell provides a hardware lab with sensors and microcontrollers, but suggests that students bring whatever equipment they already have.