What the hack? Hack Arizona brings out UA students, Tucson tech industry

1.12.18.HackArizonaDay1.SMF (3 of 5)
Sofia Moraga | The Daily Wildcat Students get geared up for a weekend full of hacking as Arizona Hack gets started this Friday.

From Friday Jan. 12 through Sunday Jan. 14, the Science-Engineering Library became a place to spend the night, not only for students studying or doing homework, but for a weekend-long event known as Hack Arizona.

Hack Arizona’s event at the UA brought out over 900 participants to build software and hardware projects during the weekend-long span. The event was open to any UA students with or without experience in computer sciences.

One of the perks of participating in the event was that students got to take home souvenirs, and tips, from international companies. 

“In Hack Arizona we don’t believe in ‘hacking’ as a malicious cyber-crime, but we rather view it as a way for students to come together and something that they are proud of from start to finish,” said Quanisha Lindsey, marketing director at Hack Arizona. 


          RELATED: Hackathon brings innovative disruption to campus


“We spend the whole weekend — more like 36 hours really — with people who want to learn or build something like an app, a website or anything that they want using technology.”

Hack Arizona invited people with significant to no experience to join the event. Tips and advice were offered through workshops to better the guest’s experience in coding. 

“We are also a mobile developing team which our students here design our Hack Arizona App," Lindsey said. "This is something new we launched this year and it gives you everything you need to know about Hack Arizona at the tip of your fingers." 

Hackathon Day 1
Raytheon's Hiring Manager, Dannie Cajayon (middle), stands with two other Raytheon employees, Patrick Kelley and Mikhail Rudin, and the first team to pass the preliminary challenge of the Raytheon challenge during the first day of Hack Arizona. The team was comprised of Laura Brubaker, junior, Sean Ruckle, senior, Kyle Boyer, senior, and Tierny Rubenow, senior, who are all studying Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UA.

This is the fourth time the UA has hosted the event. Various tech companies, such as Raytheon, Microsoft, Amazon and others  brought representatives to answer any questions students may have. 

In addition, sponsors have prize categories where students who participate can win challenges. 

One of last year's challenge winners, Patrick Kelly — who won Raytheon’s Cyber Challenge — won not only "bragging rights," but a job at Raytheon. “The challenge was to take an AR 2.0 Parrot Drone and hack it while it was in the sky,” said Kelly, now a Raytheon Software Engineer.

The challenge, however, didn't end there.

“They also had a ‘red versus blue’ challenge, where you had to defend your drone from being hacked with known vulnerabilities,” Kelly said. “I was on the red team and we didn’t have the opposite team score any points on us.” 

According to Kelly, after a long conversation and an exchange of information with Raytheon employees, he was guaranteed a position at Raytheon after his graduation in 2017. 

          RELATED: Champion headlines spring sustainability lecture series

For Raytheon Software Department Manager Dennis Cajayon, events like Hack Arizona serve an important purpose for the company.  “We are actually one of the original sponsors here at Hackathon," he said. "We have been at it for four years and what we found is that by participating we get to meet the next great generation of engineers." 

Raytheon’s challenge this year was hacking a commercial smart-doorbell by compromising its camera, and ultimately cracking a wireless router. Students who entered the challenge had the opportunity to win BB-8 robots, amazon gift cards, portable solar batteries and more.

“Once an hour we are going to have challenges to challenge the whole group to try, Cajayon said. "We have had in the past things like processing an image and even a scavenger hunt where we leave clues for the students to figure out and find a sweet treasure chest."

For more information about Hack Arizona please visit :

Follow Victor Garcia on Twitter

Share this article