What’s So Important About Students and Hackathons?

Michael Alfaro

By Michael Alfaro
Managing Partner

What’s So Important About Students and Hackathons?

As a sponsor of HackTCNJ, we worked with student groups and hackathon attendees, met potential interns, and spoke at the event as well as on TV. So, how’d we end up here?

It all started when we realized that seven out of our eight developers at Local Wisdom are female. For a male-dominated profession, we thought that was incredible. So we wanted to spread the word, to help inspire young women to pursue careers in STEM. When we were invited to sponsor HackTCNJ, we jumped at the chance.

HackTCNJ hacker crowd
The largest hacker turnout in HackTCNJ history

That’s how our developers, Jasmine, Adriana and myself found ourselves working hand in hand with a bunch of high school and college students on their hackathon projects. We passed out swag and publicized our internship opportunities.

We saw these students work hard and feverishly trying to get their code to compile and work. The best hack categories students were competing for included: social good, utility, high school, first time, and humorous.

We had a blast helping the students with their code. Among the entries we saw hacks in virtual reality, anxiety assessments, Internet connectivity during disasters, automated garbage pickup, and so many more.

Pinaki, our CEO, gave the opening and closing remarks letting students know how important it is for them to be doing this.

“Right now you’re all taking a step that’s going to propel you one step ahead of everyone else. While others are playing video games, or watching someone else play a video game, you’re here. You’re experiencing endurance, pressure, and teamwork. This is synonymous with achieving anything in life.”

Pinaki Kathiari, Opening Ceremony Speech, HackTCNJ2019
Pinaki Kathiari speaking to HackTCNJ teams
Pinaki Kathiari, CEO speaking to students

But what really made it worth it can be summed up in an email we got after the event. It said:

“As a woman, it was very intimidating being at my first ever hackathon. Your company’s encouragement and appreciation of a woman’s perspective gave me strength to not only push myself at this hackathon, but to also sign up for an upcoming Rutgers University hackathon.”

Women in computer science and Local Wisdom developers

Mission accomplished!