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The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

The Student News Site of San Francisco State University

Golden Gate Xpress

SF Hacks look to crack the code with first in-person event since 2019

The multi-day event allows students to network with sponsors from large companies
Max Owens
The S.F. Hacks club pose for a photo in the computer science lab. (Courtesy of Max Owens)

A year ago, S.F. Hacks president Odera Nwosu embarked on the journey of organizing this year’s hackathon at San Francisco State University. With less than two weeks remaining, the event is just around the corner.

The S.F. Hacks Club at SFSU is hosting its fourth in-person hackathon from April 5-7 at S.F. State Annex 1. The hackathon is an event geared toward computer science majors, but welcomes  anyone interested in hacking. According to S.F. Hacks 2024, the purpose is to host the nation’s most talented collegiate hackers, designers and developers. 

“It’s mostly San Francisco State students, but there’s a lot of students coming in from all around the Bay Area and all around the nation,” Nwosu said.

This is not the type of hacking that involves abnormally accessing  a computer or phone. In this case, it means putting together a project. Individuals will get together to collaborate on projects for 24 hours. They can either work alone or in groups. The theme for this year’s event will be announced on April 1. 

Nwosu began planning for this event by researching what a hackathon truly was during the summer of 2023, attending more hackathons to learn about them, and reaching out to people in S.F. Hacks and the computer science department for help.

“I’ve been to a hackathon here and there, but planning it is a different beast,” Nwosu said.

S.F. Hacks is part of the Association of Computing Machinery, a larger organization at SFSU, which allowed the club to form different teams with separate responsibilities for planning the event.

“We were able to really utilize each other and that different team setup, since we need each other to make this event happen for 300-plus people,” Nwosu said. 

Initially, the goal was to have 300 people attend the event, but S.F. Hacks got around 1,000 sign-ups. For this reason, the event is full, and there is no room to accommodate everybody who registered. More than 300 people have confirmed they are coming to the event, so SF Hacks will try to accommodate a few extra participants if necessary.

“Our marketing lead, Ria [Thakker], did an amazing job,” said Shriya Dandin, the outreach chair for S.F. Hacks.

There will be a check-in table for the hackers at the event’s entrance. In the annex, tables will be lined up where hackers can set up their computers and work on their projects. There will also be a food table and some information booths. Mentors and sponsors will also be in the room.

The event’s sponsors include Paul Klein, Browserbase, Fastly, OpenAI, Kaiser Permanente, Cisco and many more.

“It’s not just them coding the project; it’s also about the other experiences,” Dandin said. “We want them to have fun and take a break and at the same time learn from this.”

The first day will be a welcoming day for the hackers that is focused on company workshops, where companies have products they want the hackers to test out. Day two consists of student-led workshops along with mini-events and panels. Day three is the judging day, where students submit their projects in the morning and the judges decide on winners for each of the different prizes. An award banquet will follow.

“It’s a science-fair style event where they will be actually presenting and giving a demo if they would like to,” said Ashley Ching, a logistics coordinator at S.F. Hacks.

The SFSU hackathon was initially founded in 2017. After three hackathons, it was switched to online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the event is finally back in person.

“One of the biggest challenges was having to research how to do it again,” Ching said. “Now, since we’re in person, we have to find people to volunteer for it and people to actually understand what to do there.”

After all this hard work, the days are counting down until this event kicks off on April 5 at S.F. State Annex 1. 

“We’re essentially restarting S.F. Hacks,” said Marco Garcia, the vice president of S.F. Hacks. “It’s been a lot of work. We’re excited to see it come into fruition.” 

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About the Contributor
Jake Knoeller
Jake Knoeller, Staff Reporter
Jake Knoeller (he/him) is a reporter for Golden Gate Xpress. He is majoring in journalism and minoring in communications. He was born in Eureka, California and raised in Humboldt County. He currently lives in San Francisco. He previously worked for The Lumberjack, the student newspaper of Cal Poly Humboldt. During his free time, Jake enjoys playing or watching soccer, listening to music, and exploring neighborhoods in San Francisco.

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