Aarhus University hosted a 36 hour Hackathon last weekend to encourage students to think outside the box by ideating building, playing, hacking, sharing, learning and most of all, having fun!
by Jocylin Fan Chiang and Louise Soares
Three nights of indoor camping. Snacks galore. A laser tag battle at the end of the night. At first glance the Aarhus University Hackathon might seem like careless student fun. But the AU Hack is much more than that. For participants it’s a unique opportunity to establish networking with fellow tech enthusiasts, present their projects to potential investors and develop new ideas in a creative environment.
Hosted between March 31st and April 2nd, the second edition of the annual AU Hack mashed technology and creativity in the same environment for participating students to work together on IT-related projects. The idea of the event is to shift the focus from grades and assignments and make the whole hacking experience something truly enjoyable.
Christina Gottsche was a participant in the first edition of the hackathon and believes that the most important part of the event is the opportunity to think outside the box. “The hackathon is all about getting people to think creatively and openly. To come up with a crazy and fun idea. Even if it is not marketable, it gets the creative process going. It’s a safe space to start, gain confidence and perhaps go further in the future,” says Gottsche.
Convergence is the key for project building at the hackathon. Not just of creativity and technology, but also of different forms of knowledge. By bringing together participants from diverse academic fields, the AU Hack hopes to tie up the loose ends that may be preventing a project from going further.
One of the partners of the event, Major Hacking League (MHL) supports more than 200 hackathons a year across Europe and North America. “We had a design student with no experience of IT or coding whatsoever. She participated in a hackathon in London, found a more experienced IT team and ended up building a great project with them,” said Kevin Lewis from MHL.
After the great results seen in last year’s hackaton, the number of participants in this edition doubled from roughly 120 to 240 – plus a waiting list. Each of them brought their ‘hackathon survival kits’: battery chargers, warm blankets and a motivated disposition.
One of the participants was Yosr Chebbir, a software engineering student from Tunisia. This is her second hackathon – the first was a 24-hour trial at her hometown’s university – and also a unique opportunity to discover and be discovered by potential employers or colleagues.
“The tech industry is difficult for women back home, because our expected role is as the family caretaker. It is a struggle for women to advance in the workplace in Tunisia, as it is still mainly a male-oriented industry,” notes Chebbir.
To find out more about AUHack, visit their website and check the entire schedule.