Students host second annual hackathon: AppHack


The Appalachian Online

Nicole Caporaso

AppHack, a 12-hour event in which students joined together to utilize technology to play games, create, socialize and learn, occurred Friday night in the Chemistry, Astronomy and Physics (CAP) building.

Approximately 70 students gathered in various rooms of the CAP building beginning at 7 p.m. and most remained until 7 a.m. the next morning.

Sina Tashakkori, a computer science graduate student who has planned the last few AppHack gatherings, said AppHack is a collaborative space for the event attendees to learn outside of the classroom and contribute to their personal professional growth.

“AppHack is a hackathon, and hackathons were developed by big companies like Google and Facebook to increase productivity of their employees by giving them a chance to contribute to the company and to be creative,” Tashakkori said. “Gmail was created in a hackathon and so was the Facebook ‘like’ button.”

Within the first few hours of the gathering, there were several guest speakers who presented to the

AppHack participants, including James Wilkes, the Chair of the Computer Science Department, David Sprague, the executive vice president of ECR Software Company and Appalachian professors Erich Schlenker and Mark Nystrom.

“There’s a lot of people listening to talks and playing video games,” said Alek Ratzloff, a junior computer science major. “There are people playing Dungeon and Dragons, video games, board games and card games, and then there are people doing computer programming.”

Prior to AppHack, there was a similar event held on campus called Sedex. Tashakkori revolutionized the event this past spring.

“I created AppHack, but it is not novel,” Tashakkori said. “Before AppHack was here its predecessor was called Sedex. AppHack is like Sedex, but with a better engine. This is like the twin turbo.”

AppHack is interdepartmental and gets more students connected, which is why Tashakkori said it differs from Sedex.

One of the inclusions of AppHack is a programming contest, in which students worked on creating some type of software to be judged by a voting committee that will choose the winners at the next Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) meeting. The first-place prize is $100 and a 3D printed trophy, while the second-place prize is $50 awarded to the best programmer or group.

Tashakkori said the voting committee is made up of computer science professors, associated sponsors and ACM members.

“I hope that a lot of people come back learning something new, whether it be from a talk or from coding,” Ratzloff said. “I hope people are finding out something new and getting excited about something. I like watching people get excited about programming and computer science.”

Story: Nicole Caporaso, News Reporter