One Of The Country’s Largest And Best-Known Student Hackathons Takes Place This Weekend In Philadelphia

By Melony Roy

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the country’s best-known hackathons is underway and more than 1,000 of the best student programmers from around the world have gathered on the University of Pennsylvania’s campus to learn and create.

College students will attend the 48-hour coding fest with the hopes of solving real-world problems.

PennApps is one of the oldest student-run hackathons in existence.

“It’s a 24-48 hour real time invention competition or real time science fair is another way to think about it,” said co-founder of Major League Hacking Mike Swift.

“A huge group of students show up, in this case over 1,000, with like an idea or maybe they don’t have an idea and they spend the weekend making whatever their dreams can come up with and at the end of the weekend they have a product they can demo to the public or judges in a competition style,” said Swift.

The students work in groups to create with the latest technology available including 3D printers, wearables, and laser cutters.

Emily Goetz from Binghamton University says she’s really looking forward to learning this weekend.

“So we’re going to make an android app for the first time and I have no idea how to do that but we’re going to figure it out. I really like to learn new things,” said Goetz.

The most technically advanced students will work in groups for 36 hours to create a web, mobile or hardware application. And this year, there’s a health-centric portion of the hackathon where students will be tasked to innovate for a healthier future.

“What hackathons are great for is rapid prototyping and iteration like testing things that no one ever even thought of before so when you take that and apply it to something like health which typically takes forever and has a really slow innovation cycle some really amazing things can happen,” said Swift.

While students are creating and innovating they also have a chance to network with representatives from major tech companies.

“When I was in school, a career fair was where you went to find a great job now going to a hackathon is the best place to find a job. You have Google, Dell, Facebook, everybody you could possibly ever want to work for,” said Swift.

Former attendee Sameen Jalal is now an engineer at Facebook but is back this year to mentor students. (credit: Melony Roy/KYW)

Former attendee Sameen Jalal is now an engineer at Facebook but is back this year to mentor students. (credit: Melony Roy/KYW)

Former attendee Sameen Jalal is now an engineer at Facebook but is back this year to mentor students.

“PennApps is one of the best hackathons in the country and I’m really looking forward to almost every part. They have surprises every year,” said Jalal.

For the first time ever the finals will be livestreamed.

For more information, visit:

Link to livestream: https://mlh.io/

Pennapps: http://2015s.pennapps.com/

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