The IT Crowd: Manchester’s Great Uni Hackathon takes over Old Granada Studios

Hacking’ conjures up the image of a criminal hunched up over a computer screen flooded with digits, spouting computer jargon as they attempt to hack into the FBI’s mainframe.

However these days the term is now widely associated with creative problem solving, constructing applications, computer programs and multimedia geared towards a positive impact on society.

The popularity of which, has now turned from a past-time for many, into weekend long events where seasoned coders and complete novices team up to win prizes and create the next big tech innovations.

On April 17-18 a non-stop hacking event comes to the Old Granada Studios for this year’s mammoth edition of ‘The Great Uni Hackathon’.

MM met up with one of the event’s new organisers and veteran hacker Sami Alabed to find out how the event is shaping up.

He said: “At Manchester University we’re lucky enough to have two of the original founders of the university’s Hackathon scene.

“They successfully launched the first Manchester University Hackathon last year and achieved a fantastic turnout. This year we’re expanding and expecting to double in size.”

This year’s event promises to be a sell-out after 250 tickets were snapped up in the first two hours leading organisers to estimate 400+ expected overall sales.

Spanning an extraordinary 36 hours and attracting hundreds of hackers, the event brings together the best and brightest from the city’s student populace and further afield.

Sami described the event as a combination of career fair, science fair and networking event, with a plethora of prizes up for grabs for the best entries.

Organisers have made clear that whatever your skill level, be it a seasoned veteran of the coding scene or complete novice all are welcome, with mentors onsite to develop individual’s skills.

“Hackathon’s are of exceptional educational value, especially with the exposure to new technologies that students receive at these events that they would not necessarily meet in their everyday curriculum,” Sami told MM.

“The Hackathon will provide students contact with those already working in the industry, who gladly share their wealth of industry experience.

“Hackathon’s are team based event, competitors will learn leadership, communication and cohesion, and because it is only a 24-36 hours, it stresses the importance of time management.”

Manchester University are the current reigning European Champions having won the Major League Hacking competition by a significant margin after facing rivalry from some of the most prestigious university’s from all corners of Europe.

So how do Manchester rank globally in the hacking league tables?

Sami said: “Considering that the Hackathon scene is a very new idea here in Europe, US Hackathon’s are far superior in both attendance and how well they are backed by the big companies.

“We hope one day to compete for the global award, however now we will enjoy our success in the European scene, with this year’s event hopefully acting as a springboard for global recognition.”

The event is open to all students andfurther information and tickets can be found here

Image courtesy of Brian Klug, with thanks.

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