PennApps (http://2013f.pennapps.com/) is the first of these contests. Founded four years ago, it is now the largest student-run hackathon in the world. The upcoming event has attracted more than 1,600 applicants from the top computer science programs from around the globe; of the thousand selected to compete, roughly 650 will be from this national and international pool, with the rest coming from
At the heart of the immersive experience of a hackathon is the idea that the most instructive experience with coding can take place outside the walls of a classroom. In addition to the competition, there will be events aimed at non-engineers who want to break into the burgeoning field.
"We see hackathons like this as a way of developing foundational skills," said PennApps director
Once the time limit is up on Sunday morning, the teams will demonstrate their programs at an expo held in the Palestra from
Previous contestants have gone on to commercialize their creations and turn them into start-up businesses, such as Firefly (usefirefly.com), PayTango (paytango.com) and Pagevamp. (pagevamp.com)
Newer to the scene is PennHacks, which will run its second-ever event the following weekend. Like its older sibling, PennHacks features teams of coders competing against each other over an intense, two-day period.
"The difference is that, instead of 48 hours of coding, PennHacks is 48 hours of coding, soldering, wiring, sensing, actuating and creating," co-founder
PennHacks will provide the 100 contestants, all
Last year's top project consisted of a screen connected to a webcam that captured an outdoor scene to create a "virtual window." The team made the effect more realistic by adding a second camera that tracked the viewer's position and moved the outside camera accordingly, simulating the view one would have from any given angle.
Both contests have backing from major technology and venture capital companies. In addition to furnishing some of the prizes, representatives of these firms will attend the events, providing both technical insights and networking opportunities for the contestants.
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