Mount Allison to host first Hackathon
1/17/2019 11:07:28 AM

Student-led conference will welcome university and high school programmers from across the Maritimes

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SACKVILLE, NB — Think It. Learn It. Build It. Words to live by and the tag line for MtA Hacks, Mount Allison University’s first Hackathon taking place on campus Saturday, February 2, 2019.

Organized by Mount Allison students, faculty, and staff, the conference aims to build a computer science community and inspire technological innovation by encouraging high school and university students across the Maritimes to learn, build, and pitch projects. The 2019 event will focus on tech for environmental sustainability, and feature workshops, industry booths, and social events.

Third-year Computer Science and Commerce student Graeme Zinck is leading the organizing team for the conference. He says he was inspired to bring a hackathon to campus after attending Hack the North, Canada’s biggest hackathon, held at the University of Waterloo in September.

“It was an incredible experience to be at Hack the North and we’ve talked about having a hackathon event at Mount A in the past. After that weekend, I thought, hey we can do this,” says Zinck.

Working with computer science faculty advisor Dr. Laurie Ricker, Zinck and a team of Mount Allison computer science are hoping to have 75 participants, both post-secondary and high school students, on campus for the inaugural event. The conference will see participants working in groups over the course of either 12-hour and 16-hour streams as well as opportunities to participate in workshops, attend presentations, and to meet with industry and university representatives on site.

“MtA Hacks is aimed at both beginner programmers and those with more experience. While participants should have a basic understanding of programming and have access to their own laptop, we will have two streams of programming for different skill levels,” says Zinck. “Project ideas for the day are open-ended, but many will focus on environmental sustainability topics, thanks to the assistance and input of Mount Allison environmental science students.”

The conference will also welcome several Mount Allison University alumni to campus as judges of the event, including: Chris MacKay (Tantramar Interactive); Olivier Bourgeois (Dell EMC); Finn Lidbetter (RideCo) and Will Fiset and Micah Stairs, who both work for Google. Bourgeois, Lidbetter, Fiset, and Stairs all competed in programming competitions as students at Mount Allison, placing nationally and internationally.

MtA Hacks is supported by the Mount Allison University President’s Office, the Department of Student Affairs, the Department of Experiential Learning and Career Development, and the Campbell-Verduyn Fund.

Participants can either register as a team or join one onsite. Registration is free and open until January 20, 2019. Find more information, including a registration link and complete conference schedule, at: http://www.mtahacks.ca/

Photo caption: Members of the organizing committee for MtAHacks, Mount Allison University’s first hackathon, taking place on campus February 2, 2019.