Hackathons for a Better World

For those of you who do not know what a hackathon is, a hackathon is an event in which teams compete to create a product that will solve a real-world problem. Most of the people who attend hackathons are programmers or hackers, but hackathons are open to anyone who feels creative.

Last week, I attended HackGT, a hackathon at Georgia Tech. I was shocked by the amount of money that was spent on organizing this event. Aside from the food and travel reimbursements for 1,000 hackers, the grand prize itself was valued at about $140,000 ($10,000 in cash, $50,000 investment, $60,000 in Azure credits, and a trip to Boston). I estimate that the event gathered over $250,000 from sponsors.

It is amazing how companies are willing to put such an enormous amount of money to sponsor hackathons. However, what is even more amazing is the possibility of gathering the greatest minds in the universe and putting them under a single roof for 48 hours. Volunteers bring them food, drinks, and even pillows! To an outside viewer, a hackathon looks like a homeless shelter; to the competitors, a hachathon is heaven.

Over the weekend, hackers escape their lives’ duties and look at the world from a different angle. Every once in a while, people should take a break from the real world to keep their creativity ignited. A person can read a novel and go to wonderland. They can also go to a hackathon and turn our world into wonderland.