DerbyHacks Celebrates Third Year

February 12th, 2018

 While serving on the Speed School Student Council, Cullen Hacker was contacted by the leadership of the university chapter of the Association for Computing Machining to help organize the first DerbyHacks event. A student in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Hacker was eager to help having participated in hackathons in the past. Since then, Hacker has been the driving force behind each even, joining the ACM thereafter to take on the role of event coordinator. Now in its third year, Hacker and his colleagues continue to learn and grow as a part of the hackathon community, visiting hackathon events in other cities, as well as continuing to evolve the annual event here.

“You get to meet some software companies. I’m more of a hardware guy myself, but it’s a good competition, a good way to spend your weekend. It’s a good way to go to other cities,” says Hacker. He adds, “I’ve learned a lot of programming skills, a lot of things you learn in the middle of the night, trying to crack some codes. When you’re in the pressure cooker situations, it just kind of clicks. We definitely have picked up plenty of different ideas going to different hackathons.”

The basic premise for the hackathon is to determine a problem to a computer related problem, be that hardware or software, and then in a 24-hour period develop a proof of concept, working around the city of Louisville theme of a Smart City.

“It’s a really broad theme, but we try to think about how we streamline the city, and how do you manage big data. Companies want to see if there is anyone out there that can use big data for analysis. You can tie a lot of things back to smart city,” says Hacker.

Each year has shown growth in terms of turnout, going from 50 participants in the first year, to 120 last. Using leftover funding from year two, the Speed ACM group decided to host several smaller day camps for high schools students over the year, as part of their outreach initiative.

Hacker says, “The camps were an amazing success. We were packing classrooms with high schoolers who wanted to learn how to code on a Saturday, a Saturday. Taking on that challenge has really let us push forward that original goal of creating the hacking culture within the community.”

Held in the Engineering Garage last weekend, February 10th and 11th, the DerbyHack event has quickly becoming one of the largest events at the Speed School behind the E-Expo, there continued growth has led to sponsorships from companies,including KFC, YUM!, Kindred Healthcare, Texas Roadhouse, and UPS, looking to find computer savvy innovators.