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WildHacks Unites More than 450 Students from Across United States

Northwestern’s largest intercollegiate hackathon took place Nov. 21-22

Students crowded into the Norris University Center to hack code and have fun at the second annual WildHacks event.Students crowded into the Norris University Center to hack code and have fun at the second annual WildHacks event.

Northwestern’s hackers were out in full force this weekend, and not even a snowstorm could stop them.

Despite the foot of snow that covered Chicago, more than 450 college students from all over the United States and Canada visited campus for the 24-hour WildHacks hackathon. Open to students from all colleges and universities, the event challenged teams to create web, desktop, and mobile computer projects.

Diane Liu, director of WildHacksOrganized by HackNorthwestern, Major League Hacking, and EPIC, an entrepreneurial student group sponsored by the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, the second annual WildHacks took place Nov. 21-22 and was completely free of charge. Major sponsors included Trustwave, Braintree, IBM, Microsoft, and PayPal, which also provided mentors to help the students turn their hacking plans into reality.

“WildHacks is a great example of what can result from student passion and effort,” said Michael Marasco, director of the Farley Center. “Our EPIC team did a phenomenal job bringing together hundreds of students from across the United States to develop very compelling software in just 24 hours.”

Northwestern’s largest intercollegiate hackathon to date, the event was so packed that the Norris University Center ran out of space. Overflowing students trekked through the snow to Ryan Auditorium in the Technological Institute for the opening ceremony.

At the end of the event, teams submitted projects, which judges scored based on four criteria: originality, technicality, design, and usefulness. A team from the University of Illinois won first place and $2,000 with scavAR, a multi-player, augmented reality scavenger hunt. A team from the University of Waterloo in Canada took second place and $1,500 with PolarFeed, an easy-to-use interface to help users view, share, and print photos. Another team from the University of Illinois placed third and received $1,000 for Muse, an app that generates music with original rhythms and melodies.

“We had a lot of students who had never participated in hackathons before, and they came up with great projects that they should be proud of,” said Diane Liu, computer science major and WildHacks director. “WildHacks is an amazing environment to learn new things because people of all skills levels come together with their friends and like-minded people and have access to these great industry mentors. It’s a really special event.”