First-Ever UT Student Hackathon Draws Crowd on Eve of SXSW
Over 60 students, professional hackers and mentors have signed up for the first ever student hackathon organized by the University of Texas at Austin School of Journalism – and the numbers are still rolling in.
The event, sponsored by the Austin American-Statesman, will bring together teams of journalists, designers and developers to build news technology projects over the course of eight hours.
Charlotte Burnod, a journalism sophomore, said she looks forward to developing a project with other students and professionals.
“I'm excited to attend this particular hackathon because it is more geared towards journalism students,” said Burnod. “A typical hackathon that targets computer science students can be intimidating when you are not part of the computer science world.”
Possible projects can range from the very techy, like creating a mobile app, to the not-so-techy, like making a social media plan for developing stories.
Jeff Linwood, mobile app software developer and hackathon organizer, said that students do not need to have computer programming skills in order to sign up.
“One of the best ways to design some of these apps is just plain old pencil and paper,” said Linwood. “You can also create prototypes without knowing any programming, using drag and drop tools.”
Sponsors and mentors, including local developers and representatives from Mashery.com, will be available at the event to offer technical support and advice for attendees. Students are encouraged to sign up for the hackathon, even if they are not yet sure how to contribute.
Robert Quigley, UT journalism professor and hackathon organizer says he and the other hackathon leaders want to create a space for students to work with each other, even people they hadn’t met before the event.
“It's perfectly fine to come in without a project idea,” said Quigley. “It should be a social gathering as much as it is a work exercise, so finding new friends is part of the event.”
The hackathon is the first of many events that the School of Journalism is taking on to promote and teach technology in journalism, a huge benefit to students who will be entering a high-tech media landscape.
“Whatever you create will be great to talk about during your internship or full-time job interviews,” said Linwood. “Or it could be the start of a project that you take further through the rest of the summer.”
Burnod said she’s excited to work on a journalism project in a creative and open environment that may inspire long-term projects.
“I hope the hackathon will serve as an incubator for ideas and projects that can be further developed and improved even after the hackathon is over," said Burnod. “Having never been to a hackathon before, I look forward to seeing what the other students and I create.”
The hackathon will take place from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 12 at the Austin American-Statesman headquarters, with a light lunch and dinner provided for all attendees.
Students should come prepared with anything they may need to participate in the event. While not required, the items below may be helpful in building and implementing ideas:
- Smart phone
- Flash drive/portable hard drive
For more information and to sign up for the event, visit the Eventbrite signup page.
School of Journalism
The University of Texas