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Calling all students: UHack wants you

By Oscar Sanchez

Oscar_headshotUHack (https://uhack.us) is a free 24-hour hackathon taking place Feb. 23-24 at the University of Miami’s University Center. UHack is aimed at students (all students are invited – not just UM students) who are interested in app development and want a way to showcase their efforts.

The story behind UHack is a simple one: Miami has talented developers who start young, but they do not get a chance to experience this type of competition early enough.

I, for example, did not know what a "hackathon" was until my first internship in California a few summers ago. I used to dabble in web development and I had a lot of friends who did as well. I realized it is not fair that Stanford, Berkeley, USC, MIT, Harvard, etc have classes about iOS and Android programming, classes on web development using Google's App Engine (being taught by the creator of Reddit, no less), and classes about startups that are built into their CS and ECE curriculums while our schools here offer very limited chances to diverge (experiment away) from an outdated development track where we still deal with Java applets.

That said, students in South Florida could benefit from this competition. Not only can it help foster a future of app development in the area, but it can help the Miami startup and tech scene grow into what we want it to be. It is time for students -– not just programmers, but designers and more -- to get the opportunity to work together on something they believe in and to learn what it's like to work on a team without the idea of being graded by some professor afterward. And ultimately, it can help open the eyes of many schools in the area, which will see their students taking a strong interest in this subject.

More students should be encouraged to start their own companies here in Miami instead of Silicon Valley or New York.

Oscar Sanchez is a senior at UM, majoring in computer science and math. He is president of the IEEE chapter at UM and runs a weekly workshop for anyone interested in learning more about web development.

UHACKlogo UHack at a glance

What: Second-annual hackathon open all students, not only UM students; high school students are welcome too. About 40-45 students are expected to compete.

When: Feb. 23-24 during Miami Tech Week

Where: University Center, UM campus

Produced by: a team of UM students -- Oscar Sanchez, Thomas Cooper, Alan Goldman, Alain Fontaine and Jessica Trujillo -- and about a dozen sponsors.

Prizes: The winning UHack app will take home $1,000, a full-year subscription to CodeSchool, and three months of co-working space courtesy of The LAB Miami. The winner(s) will also have the opportunity to enter a 3-month accelerator program with the LAB Miami, including mentorship, and a chance to pitch the app and possible startup to investors. There are cash prizes and CodeSchool subscriptions for second and third place winners as well.

More information and to register: Uhack.us