Hack-a-thon provides learning outside of classroom


Participants from Hack-a-thon presented their work during lunch Friday. Despite the name, no hacking the way it's portrayed in Hollywood movies took place.
"Hacking is actually someone who's good at coding," sophomore Kevin Courtade, DePauw Open Source Club's president said. "DePauw wouldn't like it if we were hacking through their stuff."
Instead of breaking into DePauw's system, participants presented projects on what they "hacked." Presentations ranged from an iPhone app that tracked where the most people on DePauw's campus were at a particular time to an Android app that searched local businesses for coupons to use.
"[The Hack-a-thon] shows that you can do things outside of the classroom," Courtade said. "You don't have to do in the structure given. You can generate your own idea."
Presentations were supposed to take place at the end of the 24-hour coding marathon, but at around 8:30 a.m. students decided they were too tired to present that day.
DePauw isn't known as an engineering school, but students here do possess the abilities needed to create software.
"Making a successful software product isn't all about coding," sophomore Rajat Kumar, a member of DePauw Open Source and the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) said.
Kumar said the business and artistic side of making apps and software factors into success. He believes that DePauw's campus contains all the tools necessary to excel.
"DePauw can find such a group," Kumar said. "There's something for everyone."
DePauw Open Source Club worked in a joint effort with the local chapter of the ACM to put on the Hack-a-thon on April 13. It was a twenty-four hour opportunity for both computer science majors and those who have an interest in computer science to work on projects. Three rooms hosted the event: the Linux Lab in Julian, the computer science student lounge and Julian 273. Around thirty students floated in and out of the event, and 15 stayed the entire twenty-four hours, according to Courtade.
"Determination to finish what we started [helped keep us awake]," junior Tarun Verghis, a member of Open Source, said. "Pizza and a Wal-Mart run-that helped."
The event brought together students who both did and did not have computer science backgrounds. Seminars for basic HTML, or website, design drew a larger crowd of non-computer science majors.
"Making basic website was almost exclusively non-computer science majors," Verghis said. "Seeing results immediately helps boost interest."
Next academic year Open Source plans to have an event like Hack-a-thon in the fall semester rather than the spring to avoid as many schedule conflicts.
"Ideas get lost because people don't come forward," Kumar said. "With more and more recognition we can reach out to those people."