Z Hacks 2020: An inclusive virtual hackathon for students

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Most hackathons focus on software development and coding. A new hackathon for students called Z Hacks, however, invites a broader range of project entries, from code to any kind of art, including dance, poetry, painting, or sculpture.

“The focus is on creating solutions for social justice, the environment, and pandemic-related challenges, but not just technical solutions. Participants can submit creative projects in addition to coding software projects,” said Michael Matkin, assistant director of CITRIS and the Banatao Institute at UC Santa Cruz.

CITRIS at UCSC has been working with Santa Cruz Works, CSU Monterey Bay, and other community partners to plan this inclusive virtual hackathon for students. Z Hacks 2020 will run from September 19 to 25, and interested students can get full information and register online at zhacks.devpost.com.

“This event is unique in that it's open to all students, regardless of technical abilities, as long as they attended school in 2019 or will attend in 2020-21,” Matkin said.

Z Hacks also has a unique system for distributing awards. Winners will choose a nonprofit organization to which they donate the majority of the purse, and can keep up to 10% to fund their next project. The organizers expect the purse for awards to grow to more than $50,000.

The sponsors of Z Hacks 2020 include Joby Aviation, Santa Cruz Works, CSUMB Institute for Innovation and Economic Development, the Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz, CITRIS at UCSC, the Small Business Development Center at Cabrillo College, and other community organizations.