Purdue students host BoilerMake, the ‘Super Bowl’ of hacking competitions

February 7, 2014  

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Hundreds of students from across the country are expected to attend Purdue University's "Super Bowl" of hacking, a 36-hour programming and innovation competition.

Purdue's Computer Science Undergraduate Student Board has joined with the Purdue Hackers, Entrepreneurship Club and Association for Computing Machinery to host the event Friday through Saturday (Feb. 7-9) at the France A. Cordova Recreational Sports Center.

Four hundred students from 17 universities were selected to compete from more than 850 applications, said Kirby Kohlmorgen, the director of BoilerMake.

"We wanted to bring together students from all over the country who are passionate about software development to show off their skills," said Kohlmorgen, who is a sophomore in computer science. "In addition to an audience of sponsors from the biggest names in tech like Interactive Intelligence, Apple and Google, students have the opportunity to win more than $10,000 in prizes. BoilerMake is our Super Bowl of hacking competitions."

Jack Hammons, vice president of the Purdue Hackers and executive board member for BoilerMake, said the group hopes such "hackathons" change the popular understanding of the word "hacker.  

"To those in the field, the word 'hacker' does not mean breaking into systems or causing harm; it means a good programmer who is clever and creates products or programs that make lives easier and more fun," said Hammons, who is a junior in computer engineering. "A 'hack' can be anything from a mobile ordering and checkout system to an improved online music player to an iPhone app that measures the coefficient of friction as you slide it across a surface."

The competitions lead to a rapid prototyping of ideas and attract industry sponsors who also keep an eye out for talented prospective employees.

"Many of the participants treat these competitions as a practical career fair in addition to having fun," Hammons said. "People get job offers frequently and some turn ideas from a competition into viable startup companies."

The motto of the Purdue Hackers is "Hack. Pass out. Wake up. Hack," which also tends to describe hackathons, he said.

"During these hackathons teams create products in an extremely short amount of time and that often means very little sleep during the 36 hours, but it also creates a lot of camaraderie within the group," Hammons said.

A complete list of sponsors and additional information about BoilerMake is available at http://www.boilermake.org/ 

Writer: Elizabeth K. Gardner, 765-494-2081, ekgardner@purdue.edu 


Kirby Kohlmorgen, 765-667-2132, Kirby@purdue.edu

Jack Hammons, 913-6878275, hammonsj@purdue.edu 

Related story:

Purdue Hackers are innovators, not ‘crackers’

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