Hack the North Promises to be One of the Biggest Hackathons Canada has ever seen

Posted by Sarah Bennett

Have you ever wanted to attend a hackathon but couldn’t travel to one of the many big-league events in the United States? Now’s your chance.

Techyon, a startup run by University of Waterloo students, has created Hack the North, Waterloo Region’s answer to those events, and it’s going to be big. We’re talking 1,000 hackers all in one place, working on projects over 36 hours, where sleep is optional, but fun is not.

From Sept. 19 to 21, participants will gather in the university’s Engineering 5 building to compete for prizes, take part in activities and network.

As frequent attendees at other hackathons, the founding team wanted to show fellow hackers and students around the world why Waterloo Region is amazing. Victor Vucicevich, one of the creators, said the big-name companies and sponsors at other hackathons know about the region and University of Waterloo, but participating students often don’t.

“I’ve noticed that people from all of these schools don’t know where Waterloo is,” Vucicevich said. “We’re trying to put us back on the map for these people.”

To attract people, the team built a high-profile judging panel consisting of Sam Altman, President of the exclusive California-based accelerator Y Combinator; Andy Yang, COO of 500 Pixels; Mike Kirkup, Director of UW’s Velocity program; and Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum. Participants can compete in the main competition or go for smaller prizes.

Vucicevich, who is clearly excited about the event, said the team will announce more special guests soon.

The team sought help from Pearl Sullivan, UW’s Dean of Engineering, and Kirkup, who have been key in making the event happen. Sullivan convinced Altman to judge, and Kirkup helped with funding.

The entire event is free for participants, including food and drinks, grab bags and sleeping gear. The only cost is travel, but the Hack the North team is working on reducing those costs as well.

“We can reimburse flights up to a certain amount right now, and we’re working towards getting more sponsorship to help [with] flight costs to Canada,” Vucicevich said. “We’re also paying for cabs, limos or buses and everything from the airport to Waterloo.”

The event is not only an opportunity to show off skills or learn new ones, but it’s a chance to network with engineers and recruiters from companies like Microsoft and Apple. Vucicevich said copies of participants’ applications, which resemble resumes, will be given to companies attending the event.

More than 1,500 people have already applied for the 1,000 spots, and with more applications coming in everyday, it seems everyone wants to be part of Hack the North.

Participants are chosen based on projects they’ve worked on and other relevant resume components. Due to limited space, priority will be given to those with previous hackathon experience, but applicants with no experience will still be considered.

When asked why the team chose Waterloo Region to host the event, Vucicevich said it just made sense given the region’s thriving tech scene.

“We had contemplated doing this in Toronto because Toronto has better facilities for this,” he said. “But at the end of the day, we had to keep it home. This is Hack the North Waterloo.”

This article originally appeared on Communitech.

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Sarah Bennett

Sarah Bennett

Sarah Bennett is a Media Relations Intern for Communitech. She is completing the Bachelor of Public Relations program at Conestoga College. Sarah enjoys writing about Waterloo Region and is interested in social media, public relations, and media relations. more



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