HackHolyoke inspires student hackathon

Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 3:45pm

Eva Snyder ’17 took an introductory computer science course in her first semester at Mount Holyoke College because of the rave reviews she heard about Audrey St. John, an associate professor of computer science.

One semester later, Snyder was teaching others how to build computer circuits, creating her own computer-aided product, and presenting at computer science gatherings.

After attending a hackathon where nearly all of the participants were men, Snyder cofounded HackHolyoke in 2014, an interactive computer-science hackathon that fosters a collaborative space for both beginner and seasoned coders. Participants must create a product or application of value in less than 24 hours.

The November 2015 HackHolyoke event saw hundreds of students, one of whom was Liliana Atanacio, an engineering student at the Berkshire Community College. In a recent article in the Berkshire Eagle, Antanacio said she not only created a game to help her children learn English and Spanish at HackHolyoke, she also was inspired to host the first ever hackathon on her own college campus. 

With some friends, she hosted BCC Hacks, where she invited computer programmers, coders, hardware and software engineers, and other creative and technical campus peers to spend 24 hours “working on a project, address a particular problem or build a prototype with the benefit of collaborating with other like minds,” said the newspaper.

The event was well attended and participants explored, as the article said, “new technology, from 3-D printers to Arduino circuit systems, and working on projects ranging from coding to developing hardware and software.”

The keynote speaker at the event was St. John, the same Mount Holyoke College professor who inspired Snyder to begin studying computer science. St. John assured the BCC students that a hackathon provided a safe space to try something new without fear of failure, and urged them to “discover their inner tech-key” that would open the doors to other equally exciting opportunities.

Read the full article here.