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Hackers For the Greater Good Unite At Utah State

College and high school students gathered at Utah State University this past weekend for what is called a hackathon. Organizers of events like this said learning how to “hack” could help students prepare for a career in computer technology.

The event at the USU campus is not unique. According to organizers, about 7,000 people were hacking/coding worldwide.

Seth Bertlshofer, an event organizer, said during a hackathon—also called hack days, hackfests, or codefests—students learn about future possibilities in computer science. Required equipment is usually a laptop and awesome ideas. Snacks and energy drinks are optional, and for the 24 hour events a sleeping bag is required.  

“We’re just teaching students who don’t necessarily know a lot about computers more about computers—more about different languages that they can use to develop apps or websites,” Bertlshofer said. “And they definitely are very encouraged to make their own apps.”

Event organizer Haley Manning said she enjoys how events like the one in Logan can help change the bad connotation of hacking to something more positive.

“It’s nice to know I’m being a part of a group that’s wanting to change the culture regarding basically hacking and computer science and bringing a more positive industry to it,” Manning said. “And I’m proud to be a part of it, just because, being a girl even, is hard being in this industry. It’s a very male-dominant industry. And it’s great to see girls getting involved and I’m glad to be a part of that.”

Julie Collings is a hacker. Like others hoping to find jobs as a software developer, interface designer, or project manager she was there to network and collaborate.

“We have so much of a need for programmers,” Collings said. “Especially as we grow and develop as a society, we’re going to need more and more programmers.”

This latest hackathon was the first in Logan, but an extended hackathon of the overnight type will be happening at USU in November.