PennApps hackathon connects students with prizes and software industry - Technical.ly Philly

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Jan. 4, 2011 1:00 pm

PennApps hackathon connects students with prizes and software industry

Later this month, long before the crunch of finals, dozens of local student software engineers will be pulling some all-nighters. Not for a grade, of course. For cash. The third PennApps competition, a bi-annual 48-hour hackathon, will blaze by at the Weiss Tech House during a weekend that will seem to disappear for those students […]
May 11, 2011, 8:02 a.m., removed detail: Josh Kopelman of First Round Capital was not a judge.

Later this month, long before the crunch of finals, dozens of local student software engineers will be pulling some all-nighters.

Not for a grade, of course. For cash.

The third PennApps competition, a bi-annual 48-hour hackathon, will blaze by at the Weiss Tech House during a weekend that will seem to disappear for those students crunching code.

This winter’s competition, focused on mobile application development, will pit teams of up to four against one another for the chance to win more than $5,000 in prizes. There’s even the chance to win Android and Windows Phone 7 hardware.

It’s a great opportunity for sponsoring companies as well as students.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Venmo, Monetate will join the students Sunday afternoon after the groups produce their products. Participants have the chance to show off their work and make inroads to the industry.

“It’s a good way to get your foot in the door with these people,” says Alexey Komissarouk, a 24-year-old junior computer science major, who has organized the PennApps competition along with Penn’s computer science club.

And, well, it’s fun.

“If you’re any good, you’re taking a lot of hard classes and it’s interesting, but it’s not something you can show your friends,” Komissarouk says.

As of last evening, there were 42 tickets still remaining for the January 14-16 competition, at an appealing price: free.

Last September, PennApps made a splash locally, when it was able to attract sponsorship interest from a handful of well-known tech companies, like Facebook, Google and Twitter.

Duck Duck Go‘s Gabriel Weinberg stopped by to judge the competition.

The winning apps at the event included SEASPrint, a mobile printing application for Penn’s School of Engineering and SEPTANow, a real-time SEPTA mapping web app.

It’s those kinds of innovative projects, conceived in a weekend, that Komissarouk hopes to nurture with the hackathon.

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“If I have a concrete idea, I can go through and literally build it over two nights. At the end, I’ll have something,” he says. “You can go from something to nothing in a short amount of time.”

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