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Hackers to close the library for 36 hours

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Rebecca Noble and | The Daily Wildcat

Students from around the country gathered at the Science-Engineering Library to create various cyber projects over the course of 36 hours this weekend as part of Hack Arizona. Attendants used showers in the Student Recreation Center and complementary meals.

The Science-Engineering Library will be shut down for the first time ever this weekend in order to host Hack Arizona, the largest hackathon in the Southwest.

InnovateUA’s latest initiative, the event is bringing more than 400 students from the UA and across the country to spend 36 hours hacking. 

Nick Morin, director of InnovateUA, said hacking is typically associated with negative connotations but it’s a buzzword that really just means to make something better. The purpose is to bring not only students together to hack but also to foster relationships, which Morin believes is an important part of the hackathon.

Contributors include companies such as Raytheon, Amazon, State Farm, Major League Hacking, USAA, Dell, Intel, Cox, Startup Tucson, Red Bull and Wal-Mart to provide donations and mentorships throughout the weekend, which has been in the works since August, according to Morin.

Computer science sophomore Ian Tracey, the director of Hack Arizona, said more than 150 mentors are coming to give students encouragement and resources they need to capture their goals. 

“No experience is needed,” Morin said. “You can be a complete novice as long as you’re willing to learn and have fun.”

Bridget Radcliff, an academic services and student support manager in the department of computer science, serves as an adviser to help troubleshoot and problem solve as obstacles occur throughout the planning process.

Students are expected to bring their laptops, but everything else will be provided, Radcliff said. Students also have the option to check out equipment brought from the hardware lab.

Check-in begins at 4 p.m. Friday. The fun is set to last for 36 straight hours, which will be fueled by a 6,400-can donation of Red Bull.

Each student has the option to take a free Red Bull case as they walk in. Food is also supplied by caterers. 

Students are not forced to stay for the whole event and are encouraged to stay as long as they want. They are, however, allowed to leave and come back, or sleep during the event, according to Morin and Tracey. 

Students will stop working Sunday at 9 a.m. and then showcase their work in an exhibit-style setting. Mentors and judges will walk around to see progress and development. 

Each sponsor has its own challenges and criteria and will be giving out a variety of prizes, from equipment to checks. Students can be judged and recognized for anything from effort and progress to idea concepts. 

Tracey said that organizers are really focusing on a safe and healthy environment where people can productively work and feel good. Their intention is not to use the terms hacking or hacker in a malicious manner, but rather as students creating, building, and innovating things. 

Morin said they already surpassed their goal of 250 UA student participants.

“It’s really important to have UA students involved since a lot of these resources were funded by [the] UA,” Tracey said. “Every person and every student that comes will make a difference.” 

Registration for Hack Arizona will be open until Thursday; students can register at Hackarizona.org.

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Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.


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