HackTX moves off campus after five years

Carlynn Hickenbotham

HackTX, a student-run hackathon hosted by Freetail Hackers, moved off campus Oct. 22-23 to the Omni Hotel for the first time since the event started five years ago.

Logistics director Ali de Jong was in charge of the venue for HackTX this year. She said that the members of Freetail Hackers wanted to improve and expand HackTX.

“This is our fifth HackTX and we wanted to make it bigger and better,” de Jong said. “On campus, we had some trouble with conflicting times on reservations at the Student Activity Center we used years before. It was our opportunity to do something different.”

A hackathon is an event in which hackers spend hours trying to build an entrepreneurial idea into something marketable to others in the form of computer codes. The participants form teams and spend the allotted time writing code in order to achieve this goal. At the end of the alloted time, teams are judged and three prize winners are announced. 

“[HackTX] is a 24-hour coding competition where you basically do anything you want, and we judge it based on how cool it is,” Freetail Hackers co-leader Yuriy Minin said.  

HackTX is a unique experience for students from all around Texas because it is a coding competition designed primarily for people who have little to no experience with coding. 

Math senior Leslie Rice, a member of the outreach team for HackTX, said HackTX does its best to make everyone feel welcome, especially freshmen and first-timers to the
hacking scene. 

“We are trying to make [HackTX] very beginner friendly,” Rice said. “A lot of hackathons have a much steeper entrance level, and we would like students to come here and learn.”

Demographics shown at the HackTX orientation revealed about 55 percent of the attending hackers for this year being freshmen or first time coders. Students of varying majors were also evenly distributed throughout the attendees. 

Finance sophomore Tony Tao said he wanted to get more involved with programming and decided to come to HackTX for more experience.

“Business and finance and programming are pretty interrelated,” Tao said. “There are lots of companies here that are finance-related, like JPMorgan Chase & Co. And it might be a way to differentiate myself from other finance majors that may not have coding experience.”