Swamphacks VII

Swamphacks is a 36-hour hackathon/conference where students across the nation can competitively code, network, and pick up new skills

Swamphacks VII

Who: Gainesville hackers (and volunteer mentors)

What: 36 hours of hacking, workshops, activities, and meeting new friends

When: January 29-31st, 2021

Where: register here for this virtual event

PS: sign up by January 27, 2021

This week we sat down with the event co-organizers Anushri Marar and Sahar Azody to learn more about Swamphacks VII. This amazing event combines all of startGNV’s favorite things: learning, hacking, and all the Gainesville themes!

What is Swamphacks?

Swamphacks is a 36-hour hackathon/conference with a competition aspect. It invites students from across the nation to code, network, and most importantly -- pick up new skills and experience in real-time during the conference workshops. According to event co-organizer Anushri Marar, a Senior at UF, the goal of the event is to remove the intimidation aspect associated with hackathons, provide students with an opportunity to experiment, and encourage innovative thinking.

"Hackathon is an event where you don’t need any prior experience, there are so many opportunities to learn about what you’re doing in real-time. Talks are provided on new technology that you might not have been exposed to before in class, so it’s an opportunity to try something new." Anushri Marar, Senior, UF, Swamphacks Co-organizer.

Who can attend?

Student attendees are typically developers, engineers, or designers. However, the event strongly emphasizes that no experience is necessary- so set that imposter syndrome aside and sign up!

What is the goal of Swamphacks?

Swamphacks was made with the hope that students interested in computer science could have the ability to learn about technologies, even if those technologies take place outside of their major.

“People can be intimidated to jump into computer science if they’re outside of the major,” says Sahar.  “When people think of computer science and the word ‘hackathon’ it can feel really intimidating- I didn’t feel qualified when I was younger, but we want to change that environment so that it’s about fun and learning. We want people to come here and have a great time.”

“I agree,” says Anushri. “There really can be a stigma for technology- whether you’re a female looking to meet more female coders, a student interested in this topic but studying an unrelated major, or even just someone who feels like they’re lacking experience … our goal is to provide opportunities where people feel welcome and like this event is for them.”
Co-organizers Anushri Marar- Computer Science Major and Sahar Azody- Finance Major, Minor in Computer Science

What workshops do you offer to help people improve their skills?

SwampHacks offers many introductory workshops to help hackers expand and improve their skillbase. This year, hackers can attend introductory workshops on Rust, 3D modeling in Blender, Agile and XCode, to name a few.

Besides workshops, what other resources does Swamphacks provide?

Google Cloud credits and mentors are remotely available.

How has Swamphacks evolved over the years? What’s special about this year?

Swamphacks has grown steadily into its 7th year, but this is the first year the event will go completely virtual. To keep people engaged in the era of zoom fatigue, the team has special activities planned, including raffles, a yoga event, jackbox games, and an interactive session between the hackers and the art team.

September 2020- The Swamphacks team recruits new members. Photo credit: Swamphacks 

Are there prizes for the winners?

Yes, at the end of the competition, students demo their project to a judges panel. The top three winning teams get a prize.

What are the prizes?

Not telling. Top Secret. <I tried guys, you’ll just have to compete to find out!>

How does Swamphacks benefit Gainesville’s innovation ecosystem?

“The best part about a hackathon is that there are literally no boundaries- projects in class or in an internship can have pretty strict rules -- but that’s not the case here,” says Anushri.  “Events like these spark limitless creativity from people and the idea can keep growing. You can keep adding new parts to it. It doesn’t stop at the end of 36 hours. These student projects can grow to something much bigger.”

What is the team formation workshop?

The team formation workshop helps students network with other peers interested in similar projects or technologies. This year, students seeking a team can fill out a google form and the conference administrators will match them with potential team members.

Anushri and Sahar wanted to strongly emphasize that they have an incredible 21 person team working to put the event’s sponsorships, tech, art, and logistics together. 

How does this event help with the career trajectory of students?

“Any hackathon is helpful for giving students a better idea of what they’re interested in. You’re thrown into the deep end and get a real feel for what the work is like.” says Anushri.  “Being able to chat with local employers and sponsors only enhances that experience by providing students networking opportunities and feedback from mentors who are currently working in the field you’re interested in”

What role do mentors play?

Mentors are there to guide students as they navigate technologies and experiences that are outside of their comfort zone.

“Past mentors have specialized in everything from machine learning, to AI, to frontend, to backend, IOS apps... you name it,” says Sahar. “We really work to help give students resources that span across the field and to do so in an open environment. That way students can ask questions that they might not have been able to find answers for in the classroom.”

What’s the final date to sign up to hack or mentor?

Jan 27th - sign up today to reserve your spot!