Fast and Furious: The Hacker Olympics

by Jessica Otitigbe on December 7, 2012

Often times, when we think of the Olympics, the image that comes to mind – well at least to me – are the series of sport events held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports between organized team of athletes.

At Rensselaer, it’s a different story.

Student members of the Entrepreneurship Club are getting ready to host the preliminary round of the University Hacker Olympics. The event will make its official debut tomorrow, from 2 to 6 p.m, in the Center of Industrial Innovation (CII) room 4034.

In a span of only four hours, students from Rensselaer and several universities will work to write a piece of code to solve a puzzle. If it works, then the students will continue to tweak the algorithm. Students creep up the leader board (we are not talking about the reality television show Dancing With the Stars) by refining the code to make it run faster and more efficiently.

So, how did all of this get started?

The Entrepreneurship Club was approached by several tech startup companies in California to compete in the event. Business and Management major, Kevin Petrikas, who also serves as the club’s president says that the club has been looking to expand its membership and include tenacity minded people:

The Hacker Olympics will help promote entrepreneurship on campus by linking the best and brightest RPI students to the top startups in California hopefully producing relationships and job offers. I think that students will get excited about entrepreneurship and an event like this encourage students to think about starting their own companies, or at least that’s the goal.

In addition to Rensselaer, some participating colleges and universities include: Berkeley, Brown, Carnegie Mellon, Champaign, Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Ohio, Penn State, Purdue, Rice, RIT, Stanford, University of Michigan, University of California, and many more.

The overall event is sponsored by SignalFire, a California-based company that was created to “engage the world’s most audacious dreamers and builders through events and initiatives designed to bring together today’s technology leaders with tomorrow’s breakout stars.”

The goal of the preliminary round is to construct a team of over 100 top developers from participating schools. Winners will get an all expense paid trip to Silicon Valley to compete in a weekend long hackathon, and get a chance to code alongside CTO’s and top engineers from the hottest tech startups like AirBNB, Square, Stripe, and 30 others. The national finals will be held Jan 11-13, 2013.

What do the winning hackers get out of this? Beyond the chance of competing for over $150,000 in travel and related prizes, winners get to party with awesome people. Meet other awesome students from across the country. And maybe even land a job at a top Silicon Valley company.

Sounds golden to me.

Click here for more information about the national competition.