October 15, 2013

‘Hackathon’ designed to inspire innovation

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Fill a room with computer enthusiasts and there’s no telling where all that innovative thinking may lead.

That is the whole idea behind the Hack SI “hackathon” event set for Nov. 2 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  Computer programmers, students, graphic designers, project managers, interface designers -- actually anyone with an interest in computers or programming can participate, organizers say.  No professional connection to the field is required.  In fact, even children are welcome, although those younger than college age must be accompanied by a parent. 

“It’s really going to be a lot of fun.  We will get innovative and creative people together and see what they can do.  We’ll have all of these ‘geeks’ in one place where they can build things and show them off.  Participants can create webpages, robots, phone or tablet apps and all kinds of things,” Dav Glass, event coordinator, said. 

The Hack SI event is set for 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale.  Up to 150 people may enter the hackathon.  That day, they can work individually or boost their brainpower and creativity by working in groups.  There is no cost to participate but only the first 100 to pre-register at www.hacksi.me/ will get a T-shirt.  Walk-ins are welcome, too.

Glass, a Yahoo NodeJS and Open Source architect, said these all-day events have produced some incredible technology innovations across the country, including social or educational software, “mashups” that combine two existing technologies for a new purpose, and countless other valuable products.  Many of the developments have commercial applications as well, Glass, of Marion, said. 

There is no set focus for this event.  It is limited only by the imagination of the participants. 

Experts in the field, including people from local and national companies, will speak and be on hand to offer technical support at Hack SI.  There will be giveaways as well.

The schedule begins with presentations by industry experts about technology and how to build platforms and then participants have eight hours to see what they can do.  Wrapping up the day, each individual or team will present an “elevator pitch,” a 90-second presentation to show and sell what each has built.

“We at SIU are excited to be hosting the first hackathon event ever in Southern Illinois,” Kyle Harfst, executive director of Economic Development and of the Southern Illinois Research Park, said. 

Event sponsors include the Office of Economic and Regional Development and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research along with national companies including The Yahoo Developer Network, Github and TravisCI.  Local businesses including Liaison and Splattered Ink are also sponsors.

“This event will showcase the intellectual curiosity we have in this region and will also provide the opportunity for networking beyond Nov. 2,” Harfst said.

Find all of the details about the event and online registration at www.hacksi.me/.  For additional information, email info@hacksi.me.