Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Cracking the Code at Whitman’s First Ever Hackathon

Illustration by Uma Bratt

This year, Whitman will host its first-ever Hackathon—a day-long problem-solving, coding-centered tournament. People from any majors at all levels of coding experience take part in Hackathons across the globe. The organizers of the Hackathon aim for it to be inclusive to all regardless of whether they have a background in coding. Eneida Likaj, who is part of a team of students who are working together with Visiting Professor of Computer Science Parteek Kumar to run the Hackathon, explained how the Hackathon is different from just coding. 

“Students come together in teams to collaborate intensively to design, develop and prototype software or hardware projects, focusing on innovation, creativity and problem-solving. Hackathons are not just about coding; they also involve brainstorming, designing user interfaces, creating project plans and presenting the final product,” Likaj said. “This will be a unique opportunity for students of different departments and majors to come together and find a welcoming environment where they can contribute and learn.” 

Kumar described the Whitman Hackathon event and what will occur on the day-long event that is chock-full of activities.

“The team is creating a general problem for students where they will have opportunities to work together and collaborate. Of course, there will be mentors available to guide them and help,” Kumar said. “After approximately eight hours [of working together] students will submit their work, and we will give out final evaluations … and prizes,” Kumar said. 

Audrey Marthin, a sophomore computer science major, finds this part to be the secret code that makes the Hackathon so enjoyable. The impromptu nature of the event and varied backgrounds of competitors lend to unique, distinct and valuable forms of interaction and connection.

“That’s the fun thing about a Hackathon: you do not know what you’re going to build as part of the challenge. This means you can learn something new and try to incorporate it within [the Hackathon]. It’s a very supportive environment,” Marthin said. “This is my favorite and also [most] challenging part at the same time because there are people who already have more experience in a certain field. The team dynamics and figuring out which task or which project you’re interested in building is amazing.” 

This theme is one of the reasons why Kumar wanted to host a Hackathon. He finds that these experiences have different types of learning processes and methods than a traditional classroom.

“A Hackathon’s uniqueness lies in its blend of innovation, collaboration, and time constraints. Participants come together to solve real-world problems, leveraging diverse skills and perspectives within a condensed timeframe,” said Kumar. “It fosters rapid prototyping, creativity, and networking, culminating in tangible solutions and a vibrant community spirit.”

Likaj has participated in Hackathons before and agrees with Kumar’s sentiment. When reflecting on her own experiences, she remembers the passion from all those involved. 

“I still remember my first Hackathon very well: meeting so many new people in such a short space of time and working together with them is an experience filled with adrenaline. The intensity of this event is really what makes it so special. I’m grateful for the connections I’ve made and the projects I’ve been a part of,” Likaj said. “Each event has allowed me to grow, learn, and connect with like-minded individuals who share my passion for technology and innovation.” 

The Hackathon hosts two types of events appealing to students of various backgrounds and those with pre-existing projects they want to showcase. Likaj explained how anyone can sign up for either of the two events.

“If you are a student at Whitman College, Walla Walla University or Walla Walla Community College, you are welcome to participate in the Hackathon. We have two different courses of participation: General Project Building, [where] students build teams on the spot and work on a project during the day of the event, and Product Showcase, which gives students a platform to pitch their existing projects,” Likaj said. 

Students who wish to build a team in this year’s Hackathon can sign up online or reach out to any of the organizers for more information.

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