HackUMass, Hosted by UMass Amherst Berthiaume Center Creates Largest Hackathon in Pioneer Valley on April 11-12

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HackUMass, the student-run, 36-hour weekend event will challenge contestants from colleges, universities and other schools to team up or work individually in devising their own software and hardware innovations.

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Student-driven ideas will bloom on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus April 11-12 at the HackUMass hackathon being held at the Integrative Learning Center. Beginning at 8 a.m. on Saturday, April 11, the student-run, 36-hour weekend event will challenge contestants from colleges, universities and other schools to team up or work individually in devising their own software and hardware innovations. During the event, contestants will draw on a wealth of advice from participating information technology and engineering professionals, mentors and entrepreneurs.

More than 600 participants, including representatives from 70 companies and students from across the region, will take part in the event, in the new, technology-rich Integrative Learning Center, which offers robust Wi-Fi and spacious work areas. The largest gathering of its kind in the Pioneer Valley, HackUMass sold out within 24 hours after its initial announcement.

The Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship at the Isenberg School of Management is the event’s host and one of its seven event partners. The gathering’s principal sponsor is IBM. The event’s 33 sponsors are predominantly technology firms.

Contestants are encouraged to bring project ideas to HackUMass, but they must build their projects at the event from scratch. Following registration and an opening ceremony on Saturday morning, participants will finalize teams by 11 a.m. They will then have until 1 p.m. on Sunday, April 12 to build and hone their projects for submission. At 4 p.m. on Sunday, contestants will present project demos followed by dinner at 6 p.m. Project awards and a closing ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.

HackUMass will provide participants with food and beverages throughout the event. Contestants are advised to bring sleeping bags for the overnight push from Saturday night into Sunday.

HackUMass takes inspiration and best practices from the Hackathon movement, which came into its own in the mid- and late 2000s. Venture capitalists and technology companies have increasingly viewed hackathons as an engine for developing new technologies. In that, hackathons have become synonymous with the culture of rapid innovation.

In the high-energy setting at HackUMass, student contestants will improve their problem-solving and teamwork prowess. Neophytes will learn from more experienced participants and mentors. And experienced contestants will broaden their own horizons through interactions with peers, mentors and industry specialists. Participants will join forces in a community of like-minded problem solvers to deploy academic skills in real-world challenges.

The year-old Berthiaume Entrepreneurship Center promotes entrepreneurship and innovation across the UMass Amherst campus, western Massachusetts and the Commonwealth. Headquartered at the Isenberg School, the center is the hub of a campus-wide network of scholars, innovators and entrepreneurs. Established with a $10-million gift from alumnus Douglas Berthiaume and his wife Diana Berthiaume, the center catalyzes entrepreneurship and transforms ideas into business innovation through targeted investment in research, education, and entrepreneurial practice.

For more information, go to: HackUMass and The Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship.

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Patrick J. Callahan
UMass Amherst
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