By Siddharth Vodnala, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
A group of Washington State University students is organizing the first‑ever college hackathon to be held at Seattle’s iconic Space Needle, Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12–13.
The Hack Washington event will feature college students and recent graduates from all over the nation competing to create innovative digital products and show off their coding skills. The hacking event will be held in the Space Needle, 8 a.m.–11 p.m. Saturday, and will conclude at the Pacific Science Center on Sunday morning.
Kaveh Khorram, a WSU senior at WSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, got the idea to organize the hackathon last summer during a trip to Seattle.
“I turned around while walking and unexpectedly saw the Space Needle,” said Khorram, a hackathon enthusiast who has previously organized a hackathon at Bellevue College.
Khorram and other WSU student organizers decided to set Hack Washington apart from other college hackathons by choosing attendees with high skill levels.
Out of a total of more than 600 applications, the team selected the top 150 based on their previous demonstrated coding skills.
“Our goal was to attract the very best,” said Khorram.
The team also sought a more diverse applicant pool and actively recruited female collegiate coders, using social media and reaching out to women’s engineering clubs at various universities around the country.
Hack Washington sponsors — including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Cisco — will have recruiters at the event, said Khorram.
“The main reason we have so many sponsors are the companies’ interest in recruiting world‑class talent,” he said.
In addition to job opportunities, the hands‑on experience from hackathons will complement classroom learning in computer science, according to Patrick McGreevy, a WSU sophomore studying computer science, who is one of the organizers.
“Through hackathons, you’re taking what you’re learning in theory and then actually building something from scratch,” he said. The networking and collaboration skills acquired during the hackathon will be very applicable to anyone entering the tech workforce.”
Hackathon attendees usually fuel themselves on a staple of pizza and energy drinks. But Hack Washington will feature a unique menu that includes a steak dinner, fresh fish and desserts.
But best perk however might be the venue itself, Khorram said.
“The views from the Space Needle are pretty amazing.”
Kaveh Khorram, WSU School of EECS student helping organize Hack//WA, 425‑269‑2128, firstname.lastname@example.org