UCSC students will code for Santa Cruz in April 5-6 'hackathon'

$10,000 in prize money offered in the first HACK UCSC organized by UCSC and the Santa Cruz tech community

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Launch Hack 2013 in San Francisco. (Photo by Mark Adams)

The first UC Santa Cruz "hackathon" will take place on the weekend of April 5 and 6 at the Oakes Learning Center, bringing together student developers, designers, and entrepreneurs to produce mobile apps and web programs in a 32-hour competition. Organized by the UCSC Center for Entrepreneurship, HACK UCSC 2014 is supported by the Santa Cruz tech community, which has donated $10,000 in prize money to be shared by the top four teams.

The theme of the event is "Santa Cruz." The apps and programs developed by student teams will be scored on their relevance to the Santa Cruz community, technical merit, and novelty. Industry veterans from the tech community have volunteered to serve as mentors for the student teams.

"This will be an exciting student experience that combines programming, team work, business building, and connecting with people in the tech community. It will also show the community how fabulous UCSC students are," said Brent Haddad, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and professor of technology management in the Baskin School of Engineering.

HACK UCSC is the brainchild of UCSC student Mark Adams, a senior in business management economics and student coordinator at the Center for Entrepreneurship. Adams said he was inspired by other hackathons he has attended, including Launch Hack 2013 in San Francisco and hackathons at Berkeley and Stanford. "I feel like it's the ultimate test of entrepreneurship, because you build and present a startup in just one weekend," he said.

Haddad said he was already thinking a hackathon would be a great activity for the Center for Entrepreneurship when Adams approached him and offered to organize the event. They then met with Doug Erickson, founder of the 1,500-member Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp, who added his enthusiasm and connections to the project.

"This event brings together the engineering talent at UCSC with the vibrant tech community in Santa Cruz," said Erickson, a UCSC alumnus with a 25-year career in high tech. "Each student team will include one mentor from the Santa Cruz tech community. We know that connecting UCSC students with Santa Cruz resources results in new Santa Cruz-based businesses."

The $10,000 cash prize has been funded by the Santa Cruz tech community, including South Swell Ventures, Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp, City of Santa Cruz Economic Development, Cruzio, NextSpace, Civinomics, The Armada Group, and Mainstreets. In addition to the prize money, the winning teams will get to present their projects at an awards dinner and at a later meeting of Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp, a monthly gathering of the local tech community that includes venture capitalists and angel investors.

"For the top teams, there's not only the prize, but also potential investment down the line," Adams said.

The event is not limited to UCSC students, although Adams said he expects the vast majority of participants will be from UCSC. About 100 to 150 students are expected to participate in the event, and registration is still open.

An Awards Dinner will be held on Sunday, April 6, with speakers to include UCSC alumna Peggy Dolgenos, founder of Cruzio Internet. The dinner event is open to select student teams and participating judges, mentors, speakers, and sponsors. Community sponsorships have been provided by Santa Cruz Tech Beat and LightSpeed. The IEEE student chapter at UCSC will provide student volunteers for the event.

UCSC students can learn more and register to participate at: www.eventbrite.com/e/hack-ucsc-tickets-10740219285