In today’s day and age, the term “hacking” has been used with a negative connotation, indicating a virtual criminal act. However, that’s not always the case. Take the UPenn Hackathon for example: twice a year, the University of Pennsylvania hosts what they call “PennApps”, a 48 hour challenge open to anyone who wants to participate to create the “most awesome” program you can think of for a chance to win the grand prize of $10,000. This massive event not only provides the experience of a life time, but also all the things you would need on a regular basis. They provide food, drinks, and even sleeping arrangements. All they want the participants to worry about is coding.
Over the years, some pretty incredible programs were submitted in this competition. For example, the 1st place winner of the Fall 2013 PennApps designed a program allowing you to make changes to any apps you’ve created without needing to go through the AppStore. The second place winner created a video game that uses videos that you take as its background. As you can see, the possibilities for creation are endless.
Besides the grand prize, there are several other prizes given out by the competition’s sponsors for different categories. Major companies such as Microsoft, Comcast, and Apple are all sponsors of PennApps and provided prizes such as cash, tablets, and even future programing opportunities at their company.
Karl Dill, Kuba Gasiorowski, and Wesley Ogata organized a team to represent High School West at this annual challenge. “We made a roster that allows businesses to store their information, like telephone numbers and prices, that customers can then search through to pick their preferred service. It’s not that ‘cool’ but we got it working pretty nicely by the end of the competition,” comments Senior Kuba Gasiorowski.
“Basically, we sat down with our laptops for 24 straight hours and put our heads together to code a project,” continues Gasiorowski. “All in all, it was great because we were able to spend a day with the best and brightest in our field.”