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The Baltimore Hackathon is back for 2017. Here’s the plan

The fifth edition of the all-weekend event is set for April 28-30 at two venues in Station North.

Ryan J. Smith (right) picked up his second award in two weeks at the 2015 Baltimore Hackathon. (Photo by Stephen Babcock)

The Baltimore Hackathon is set to be held in Station North later this month, and the organizers are looking to encourage work beyond one weekend.
The event returns April 28-30 for its fifth edition. We caught up with organizers Chris Guzman and Brigitte Warner to talk about what’s in store for this year.
The fifth edition of the event has three tracks for projects, including software, hardware and civic. When we spoke last week, the organizers said $12,500 in prizes were up-for-grabs.
Guzman pointed out that the hackathon has moved between neighborhoods each year. This year, it will also shift venues within the neighborhood where it’s being held. It’s set to be held in two locations in Station North. Impact Hub Baltimore will be the scene of the kickoff and software project work throughout the weekend. Open Works Baltimore, the massive makerspace that opened last fall, is making tools like 3D printers, electronic and cutters available for the hardware portion of the event.
Along with being a way to try out some new skills, the hackathon can also be an entry point into the tech community. The organizers also took a couple of steps to make the idea of a hackathon less intimidating for someone who hasn’t attended one before.
While it’s held throughout the weekend, there’s no all-nighter required. To stave off burnout, the spaces won’t be open for 24 hours.
“We want people to feel like they can go back to work on Monday,” Warner said.
Teams will have the weekend to complete their projects, and present to judges. But they don’t want that to be the end.
They also want the projects to live on past the event. On July 29, they’re holding a follow-up event at the University of Baltimore with presentations and additional prize money available.
“It’s our way of trying to help people work on their side project, and if there’s a really good idea we want to make sure there’s support for that at the event,” Guzman said.
The community-run hackathon hasn’t been held every year, and the event was on hiatus in 2016. But now it’s back with an organizing team that also includes Sal Hernandez, and support from staff from Code in the Schools and Digital Harbor Foundation.


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