Leave your comfort zone & organize a hackathon!

If you would have told me one year ago that I would be involved in planning a hackathon, first I would have had to ask what a hackathon was, and second, I wouldn’t believe you. Especially here at Utah State University. They just don’t exist here. Our campus hasn’t been exposed to that kind of culture. Not yet anyway.

HackUState is coming, and we’re part of MLH’s Fall Schedule. When I first got involved with the hackathon, a part of me was skeptical. It was as if I didn’t really think this would happen. No way would the University allow a bunch of college students from across the nation to gather and just hack. I had heard of other colleges having these kinds of events, and with hundreds, if not thousands, of attendees.

Then it hit me: I could help bring that here. I could be part of something that would affect not only my last year in college, boosting that “college experience” everyone seems to speak so highly of, but also affect my career. Bringing hackUstate to life on Utah State University’s campus would be the biggest accomplishment of my college career. “I’m in,” I said.

As hackUstate has been in the planning stages, part of our challenge here on campus has been changing the connotation that comes with that term: hack. It’s not just something Robert Redford in Sneakers does anymore. Hacking isn’t just about breaking stuff. It shouldn’t be paired with a negative action of doing harm. Every meeting we’ve been in has attempted to set this record straight. Hackathons are becoming the go-to place to learn.

Hacking is a new process of learning.

They say you get exactly what you put into your “college experience”. I was happy attending class. Happy staying in my comfort zone. The most exciting part of hackUstate to me will be coming out of that comfort zone. To be honest, I’m excited and nervous to meet hackers from across the country. Many who attend hackathons are also in their “happy place”, and content being there.

If there’s one thing hackUstate can teach me, it’s to put yourself out there. It’s to rub elbows with fellow coders and make those connections, but also make those new friends. Learn something new. Encourage others to get out there. Organizing a hackathon teaches you more than you will realize.

-Andrew Hancey (Organizer @hackUstate)

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