Tech culture isn’t something you would anticipate to find in the Flint Hills of Kansas, unless you tried looking for it.
Last weekend, over 150 competitors came to Manhattan for Hack K-State, a sleepless weekend competition of technology building for high school and university students.
This was the 3rd hackathon that Hack K-State has held, and so far the largest. Alex Todd, who is one of the main organizers and a senior in computer science at K-State said, “we had 90 undergrad students compete (10 from other universities) and 60 high schoolers from Kansas and Nebraska.
“Over 50% of the competitors each year have never been to a hackathon before,” Todd said.
Hack K-State is an official student run competition team at Kansas State University. Every year, the team organizes a hackathon in the K-State Engineering building.
Alex said, “it’s an invention weekend. Everyone comes on Friday night and they think of a cool website, mobile app, or robot to build over the weekend and then get to show if off to everyone at the end.”
This year, the first prize winner was “Aoide”, a project that used takes your code and generates music out of it using the basic principals of chord progression. Alex said, “another project, “Air Guitar”, had a Myo arm band that allows the user to play guitar.”
The band detects your muscles movements and wired fingers up to the guitar.
“A few Hack K-State organizers went to HackISU in Ames a few weeks ago and we met some of the organizers there, who came down for Hack K-State,” Alex said.
It’s recommended that you work with a team during the hackathon, but if you don’t have a team, Hack K-State has team building workshops to help bounce ideas off eachother.
“There were a lot of good projects. We definitely encourage them to keep working on the projects after the weekend. There’s a joke in computer science that you have all these side projects that you’ll never finish.”
Alex said, “even I have projects from hackathons that I think would be cool to make into real products.”
Hack K-State partners with a company called even I have projects from hackathons that I think would be cool to make into real products
MLH helps to put on hundreds of hackathons a year around the world, engaging over 65,000 students. Actually, Hack K-State is the only MLH hackathon in Kansas.
“We have a lot of sponsors that send representatives out to the event to mentor students, answer questions and help solve bugs,” organizer Alex Todd said.
Local Manhattan sponsors included CivicPlus and Thunderhead Engineering, while Kansas City based sponsors were Homebase, Garmin, Mediware, SMG, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield.
Larger corporate sponsors included Google, Dunkin Donuts, KIND, Twilio, Wolfram Language, Digital Ocean, CodePen, .TECH Domains, Jet Brains and BATS.
“We’re always reviewing our sponsorship prospectus and looking at how companies sponsoring and students attending can get the most out of the hackathon. We always welcome any sort of sponsorship.”
The next weekend hackathon in Manhattan that Hack K-State is planning to host will be in the fall of 2018.
“During the spring semester we’re putting together official teams to send to other hackathons across the US, and host smaller, one-day hacking events,” said Alex.
Follow along on Twitter: @hackkstate and the Hack K-State website.