In-person hackathon makes triumphant return to campus

Author: Kanaga Rajan
April 15, 2024
Event welcome slide on project and long tables filled with students

SF Hacks was a nonstop weekend filled with ‘hacking,’ friendly competition, networking, karaoke and Bob Ross

What is a hackathon? The word might conjure an image of people with their heads down furiously clacking away at a computer in silence. But that is not what happened at this year’s student-run SF Hacks event — especially now that the annual hackathon is back in person.

After being virtual for the past few years, SF Hacks returned to San Francisco State University’s Annex 1 April 5 – 7 for the first time since 2019. There were more than 200 participants, with students coming from 33 different schools and six states.

During hackathons — sometimes also called codefests — participants design projects to solve various problems. The hard part: They only have 72 hours to work on the project, write the code and troubleshoot before presenting to judges. But the competition is just one part of SF Hacks.

“Most of the time you’re staying up because you have to get homework done. But this time we’re staying up [because this hackathon] is like a huge sleepover,” said SF Hacks Co-President Arianna Yuan, a Computer Science senior.

The multi-day event is really a community celebration packed with networking, games and activities like karaoke, a Bob Ross painting workshop and a K-Pop club event. Beginners are more than welcome.

“With online hackathons, there’s a lot less room for randomly meeting a teammate and going out to do painting. [You can’t] see a bug on someone’s screen and then run across the room to communicate that to someone else,” said SF Hacks Co-President Odera Nwosu, explaining the spirit that was lost on Zoom.

This year’s challenge theme was city life. Nwosu, a Computer Science sophomore, points out it’s a very San Francisco-driven theme. Projects could address transportation, food, housing and other topics affecting students. There were also several tracks like artificial intelligence and sustainability that were set by SF Hacks and various sponsors.

Read the full article on SF State News.