36 hours, 400 students, $10,000 in prizes – Purdue’s first hackathon draws big crowd

Last weekend, teams of students spent 36 hours straight hunched over all kinds of gadgets on tables in the CoRec, trying to code their way to victory and $10,000 in prizes at the BoilerMake competition. Over 400 people showed up to take part in Purdue’s first “hackathon,” an event which features intense collaboration between programmers, graphic designers, and software visionaries.

The motivation? Fun and profit. If a group developed a project that could do well on the market, they could approach corporations at the event for funding, purchases, or even job offers.

The event was put on by several Purdue organizations working together – the Computer Science Undergraduate Student Board (USB), the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Purdue Hackers, and the Entrepreneurship Club.

BoilerMake was open to students from any school, and they could develop any projects they wanted. Kirby Kohlmorgen, the director of BoilerMake and an executive board member of USB, said one of the best projects he saw was called “WordScan”

“It’s an iPhone app that teaches you how to read. Scan a word, hear the definition, hear the pronunciation, and more.” It was created by a team of three students – Michael Clayton, Sam Dickson, and Viraj Venkat.

Many corporations sought to cash in on an event that had students generating this kind of technology and demonstrating programming and teamwork skills. Companies like Booz Allen Hamilton, General Electric, and Google provided sponsorship, and some sent representatives.

Kohlmorgen described the hackathon as “insane.”

“An insane event. An insane challenge. An insane outcome.”

He adds that future plans are in the works, and that interested students should keep an eye out for more information next fall.

Below: Browse our photo gallery of the first BoilerMake hackathon! Photos provided courtesy of Spencer Brown.

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