What is a “hackathon”?
No, hackathons do not involve hacking into a computer or a network. They are, however, an insanely intense invention competition where you find a solution to a problem. They last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours and can be completed solo or in teams. Some hackathons, such as Aggies Invent, place more emphasis on the business aspect of creating a product while others encourage creating the most technically complete product you can.
Hackathons are opportunities to pour every ounce of engineering and practical skills you have into kickstarting an idea into real life.
What I’ve learned from competing
Before coming to Texas A&M, I had no idea what a hackathon was. However, over my first semester, I competed in four hackathons with four different teams, solving four very different problems. I went from a straight newbie to a certified hacker (and even took home 2nd place) by just putting myself out there. Every single one of these experiences brought invaluable technical skills, such as how to use machine learning algorithms, low-Bluetooth beacons, and augmented and virtual reality technology. Just as important, I deliberately sharpened my soft skills like networking, teamwork, and public speaking. On top of everything I’ve learned, I’ve made some of my best friends and mentors through competing. Hackathons, for me, have already leveled up my college experience and abilities as a capable engineer, entrepreneur, teammate, and person.
Why you need to participate in one
As engineers, we are tasked with the challenge of solving some of the world’s most important problems. We must have in-depth technical knowledge, teamwork, communication, and the ability to work in tough situations and circumstances. Hackathons are the perfect events to develop and showcase every single one of these skills. Besides the abundant source of self-development, hackathons are a great place to meet people, network with the sponsoring companies, and get free food and swag!
Aggies Invent is a 48-hour intensive design experience offered at the SuSu and Mark A. Fischer ’72 Engineering Design Center.