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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggies to tackle healthcare system problems at hackathon

The five co-founders of TAMUHack, a student-run organization that attends and hosts hackathons, will travel to Philadelphia this weekend to participate in the 10th bi-annual PennApps hackathon.
PennApps X is one of the top hackathons hosted in the nation and has more than 1,000 participants from all over the world, including hackers from Switzerland, England and Singapore. The five Aggies participating in the event hope for a successful weekend at the competition before hosting their first hackathon on campus next month.
Robert Timm, a computer science junior participating in PennApps, said hackathons differ from usual media portrayals and said hackathons try to solve real world problems.
“It’s not about trying to break into someone’s mainframe or anything like that,” Timm said. “It’s about taking something that hasn’t been put together in a specific way yet and doing something with it.”
In previous years, PennApps has tackled issues dealing with education and technological development. This year, the competition will have hackers coding to help solve health and medical problems, working to fight the problems of antiquated healthcare systems.
“This is one of the events where it is not just about the software but also about the culture surrounding it,” Timm said. “This one will be better than the rest. I’ve put some thoughts and ideas down on some paper and we will see what happens when I’m there.”
Timm said the selection process for PennApps is thorough and applicants are asked to provide previous project descriptions through Github links, LinkedIn account information, and former hackathon participation records. Timm said only 24 participants at PennApps will come from Texas.
Christopher Nolan, computer engineering junior, said hackathons allow hackers to apply what they learn in the classroom to real life situations.
“At my first hackathon I learned so much and it boosted my confidence and skill in computers so much,” Nolan said. “I created something beautiful and won in less than 24 hours. It’s good for the community because it really helps people become active computer scientists and engineers.”
Nolan said he has seen how much hackathons have to offer to participants, which is why he is excited for TAMUHack, a hackathon hosted by Texas A&M computer science majors Oct. 24-25.
“I attended hackathons hosted on campus by the colleges of architecture and business and I was thinking, ‘Why isn’t there a hackathon that’s hosted by computer science majors?’” Nolan said.
Nolan, along with the four other co-founders of TAMUHack, decided they wanted to bring students nationwide to Texas A&M for hackathons. They established TAMUHack after months of organizing and planning as a platform for students to showcase their creativity through coding and marketing their technologies.
“The organization has been around for maybe a month,” Rafael Moreno, a computer science junior and co-founder of TAMUHack, said. “In the beginning we went to different hackathons in Austin and one in Pennsylvania. We got real into it ­— so we got to the point where we started taking it seriously and working to get it recognized as a club.”
TAMUHack, which is affiliated with the computer science department, and Startup Aggieland has garnered the attention of hackers nationwide, with more than 350 participants already registered with a cap of 500 participants set, Nolan said.
Most hackathons offer full reimbursements to all participants in order to cast a larger net on prospective hackers, including PennApps, which will cover all travel expenses for the five Aggies. TAMUHack will be no different.
“We have over 20 sponsors already and hope to get more sponsors, so we can give more reimbursements,” Nolan said. “Hopefully our event is successful and we will gain national recognition in order to make it a larger event in the coming years.”

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