Every fall, the Engineering Center buzzes with excitement for hackathon, a 24-hour marathon of ingenuity, led by the student-run organization GrizzHacks

Students standing over a table.

GrizzHacks participants work together to confront challenges, solve problems, and make discoveries. (Photo Credit: Rani Karana)

icon of a calendarMay 7, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Jacqueline Kobus

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A hackathon is an event that enables students to work cohesively using the fundamentals of code to invent applications and hardware programs within an all-nighter time frame.

Hackathon culture has gained momentum from Silicon Valley to the rest of the nation via college campuses, and Oakland University is no exception. The 2019 GrizzHacks4 welcomed 350 participants, making it the largest event yet.

“GrizzHacks is continuing to grow every year because hackathons provide an unparalleled opportunity for students, alumni and professionals to connect with each other, learn new things and work on innovative projects,” says computer science senior Shriyash Jalukar, a co-director of GrizzHacks.

Due to its proximity to the auto industry and suppliers, GrizzHacks attracts big corporate sponsors. It also draws in companies from other industry sectors, such as Quicken Loans, Comerica Bank and Little Caesars. Consequently, GrizzHacks offers good opportunities for career networking.

“Students learn about a company and judge whether it would be a good place for them to work. Industry mentors are observing while working with students, to see if their talents meet the company’s needs,” says Jalukar.

Collaboration and teamwork prevail among industry mentors, alumni and students as they confront challenges, solve problems and make discoveries.

Jalukar admits that often the most important discovery at a hackathon is what students learn about themselves. Most students feel greatly empowered after the hackathon, and some of them go on to further pursue the projects they have started.

“All students are welcome to join,” Jalukar says. “The hackathon is all about coming together and sharing the opportunities. The more inclusive we are, the more opportunities we have. When you get a hotbed of talent in one room, the opportunities are endless.”

A panel of judges assesses teams’ hacks based on creativity, difficulty, design and potential. Ten best hacks are publicly demonstrated in front of the GrizzHacks audience for the final judging decision.

For more information about GrizzHacks, email team@grizzhacks.com.

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