A happening hackathon

By Nathan J. Comp, Isthmus

MadHacks HackathonAustin Hartzheim seems unfazed by the expectations he inherited following the success of April’s MadHacks 2015. The event attracted roughly 300 college students from around the country for 24 nonstop hours of toying and tinkering with technologies during the first sanctioned hackathon hosted by UW-Madison students.

Tapped to oversee the production of next year’s event, tentatively scheduled to be held in the fall, Hartzheim has plenty of time to flesh out the details.

But the near flawless roll-out of April’s hackathon — 10 months after its founders dreamed it up over a few beers — has set a high bar for MadHacks 2016.

“Preparations are going pretty well so far,” says the 20-year-old computer science major. Then, without a hint of irony, he adds, “The biggest thing is that we’re still looking for a venue.”

Student hackathons are a spinoff of the professional-level hackathons first organized more than 15 years ago, attracting a wide range of specialists and hobbyists. Attendees are enticed by the sense of community around the events, the intense competition that drives them, or simply the opportunity for creative expression through technology most wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Read more …


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