Students prepare for hackathon

Three weeks after participating in the PennApps Hackathon, the largest in the country, Matt Sniff ’15 and Joe Soultanis ’15 are leading the effort to host a similar program at the College of William and Mary.

But what exactly is a hackathon?

Bringing together student programmers and coders, a hackathon creates what Soultanis describes as an exciting environment where teams sit down and create a software project over the course of a weekend. At the end of the event, teams present their creations to a panel of judges and prizes are usually awarded.

Hackathons also typically include speakers, tutorials and sponsors who provide participants with free items and networking opportunities.

Currently, Sniff and Soultanis are working to secure sponsors and speakers for the event. Soultanis said he has received interest for working with the College’s hackathon in some capacity from Microsoft, IBM and Epic.

The pair plan to hold the event in March. They will market the event to both the College community and those at other institutions, and they hope to attract between 100 and 200 participants by their proposed January registration deadline. However, logistical work on the event is still underway; the duo must coordinate with the College’s IT department to accommodate the event’s bandwidth usage and arrange for guest logins for participants outside the College community and the event itself.

Overall, the pair believes the 2014 hackathon will bring a much-needed spotlight to the College’s computer science department, its presence in the tech community, and its capacity for innovation.

However, Sniff and Soultanis said the hackathon will require a lot of funding for equipment, food and other logistical costs. They are currently looking to alumni, the Student Assembly and other sources for income.

Three days ago, Soultanis restarted the College’s Student Association for Computing Machinery chapter, a student group that remained active at least until 2007 before ending. By reactivating the group, Soultanis and Sniff can apply for funding from the SA’s Activities and Events fund.

If interested in working with the College’s hackathon project, Sniff and Soultanis encourage students, faculty and staff to email them at or

Check back with The Flat Hat for more on this developing story.

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Senior staff writer Meredith Ramey '15 is an English and History major from Longview, Tx. She was previously Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor and News Editor.


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