Student Hackathons Nurture the Future of Software Development

By Mike Carrozzo, Editor, SHARE'd Intelligence

The hackathon has become an important educational resource for budding developers looking to cut their teeth in programming. In fact, more than 200,000 people took part in hackathons across more than 100 countries in 2016, according to an analysis of Hackathon.com data from BeMyApp.

Hackathons are events – sometimes competitive – where software developers gather together to collaborate on new innovations, and work their way through complex coding challenges. Events often take place over the course of several days or even an entire week, which offers plenty of time for attendees to have fun, get involved in the developer community, and fully invest their time and energy into building creative tech solutions.

Hackathons have become critical to furthering education around software development, especially on campuses nationwide.

What is a Hackathon?
Rules vary, but many hackathons establish a set of specific challenges and reward prizes for the best projects. For example, Arizona State University’s Hacks for Humanity will involve 200 students working to develop tech solutions for the social good. Those projects must fit the organization’s seven Humanity 101 principles (kindness, compassion, integrity, respect, empathy, forgiveness and self-reflection).

Organizers often tailor their hackathons to focus on various themes or technologies. For example, the Global AI Hackathon will take place in 15 cities worldwide, uniting more than 20,000 designers, data scientists, neuroscientists and coders to compete and collaborate on artificial intelligence projects.

Major League Hacking (MLH) calls itself the official student hackathon league, sponsoring more than 200 weekend-long events each year. More than 65,000 students have picked up coding from MLH hackathons and the organization maintains a rolling calendar of upcoming events worldwide. Anyone can join – the events are meant to be beginner friendly and open to anyone with an interest in technology, not just those with prior experience coding.

Similarly, sites like Hackathon.com and Hackalist track worldwide hackathons available to programmers of all ages, including high schoolers, college students and working professionals. Corporations also sponsor their own hackathons, which provides another benefit: recruitment.

The Master the Mainframe Hackathon
Ultimately, hackathons bring together tons of young developers who are eager to learn code, develop their passion for programming, and maybe even find a job opportunity. They offer a great educational and recruitment resource for the mainframe community, which is why SHARE is excited to launch our own student hackathon this summer.

IBM and Rocket Software are sponsoring the Master the Mainframe Hackathon at SHARE Providence. Open to college students with a valid student ID, the competition includes fun challenges that reveal the power of z Systems in Application development. Participants will earn points toward prizes for each section they complete, and the participant with the most points will win an Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset.

The hackathon is part of Student Career Day on Tuesday August 8, which includes a full schedule of educational sessions and access to industry experts and technology partners. Students can register for free at http://event.share.org/register - just choose the “Student Career Day” registration type and use the discount code SCD17 to apply.

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