Written by Emma Chiao
The first ever Gunn-hosted hackathon, run by the United Computations club, was held on March 14 to 15. The event brought together about 150 students from over 30 schools to code and create projects such as apps, websites or hardware. “Hackathons are a great place to get started with programming and meet cool people who are willing to help you learn,” sophomore Kartik Chandra said.
Hackathons were started back in 1999 and were mainly used by companies to encourage employees to work. Only recently have they also become student-focused. Student participants in the hackathon were placed in a room for 24 hours starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday. During that time they worked in teams to program, code or design a project of their choice. At the end of the hackathon, there were judges who award the best team project.
Many Gunn hackers were looking forward to this event. Freshman Kevin Frans, who has been attending hackathons for two years, shared his excitement. “It [was] a good experience with a bunch of smart minds from all around the area making products to inspire others to hack,” he said.
The organizers of this event were unsure of how it was going to turn out as this was the first hackathon at Gunn. Chandra along with the three other coordinators junior Justin Yang, junior Jonathan Zhang and sophomore Nicholas Littau had been making preparations since November. According to Chandra, organizing a hackathon was no easy task. Booking a venue, finding sponsors and spreading the word were all part of what needed to be done. “We [did] this with a lot of help from [Computer Science teacher Josh] Paley,” he said.
Paley had been overseeing the process, but gives most of the credit to the student organizers. “From my point of view the best clubs and programs are student run,” he said. “They really [drove] this.”
In Paley’s eyes, computer programming is an important skill. “Computing is an unbelievably creative process,” he said. “It’s a very intense thing. It’s about making something that could potentially impact the world.”
Frans also stressed how the hackathon could positively affect Gunn students. “The whole goal of having a hackathon [was] to see what the potential of Gunn students are,” he said.
Senior Rachel Wu was glad that Gunn hackathon was able to give high schoolers a chance to program. “It was a great opportunity to bring this kind of event to Gunn students,” she said.
According to Chandra, the aim of the hackathon was to create a space for high schoolers to build the programming culture while interacting and sharing ideas. It gave many students the chance to make their ideas a reality. “For a lot of high schoolers, they don’t necessarily have 24 hours [to focus on hacking],” he said. “But if you go to a hackathon, that’s sort of what you’re meant to do. It’s a good way to do projects that you otherwise wouldn’t have the motivation to do.”
The aim of the hackathon was to create a space for high schoolers to be part of the programming culture while interacting and sharing ideas. It gave many students the chance to make their ideas a reality. “For a lot of high schoolers, they don’t necessarily have 24 hours,” Chandra said. “But if you go to a hackathon, that’s sort of what you’re meant to do. It’s a good way to do projects that you otherwise wouldn’t have the motivation to do.”