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MEDIA ADVISORY FOR SUNDAY, SEPT. 7: During ‘HopHacks’ at Johns Hopkins, College Students Must Program Under Pressure

Young Computer Wizards Will Have Just 36 Hours to Devise a Useful Digital Tool

September 5, 2014
CONTACT: Phil Sneiderman
Office: 443-997-9907/Cell: 410-299-7462

WHEN: Participating university students from Johns Hopkins and elsewhere begin checking in on Friday evening, Sept. 5. At 9 p.m., the 36-hour “hackathon” begins. IMPORTANT: In this contest, “hacking” refers to common slang for writing computer code to develop a program that serves a practical, legal purpose. These projects are not designed to break into other personal or corporate computers in order to steal or tamper with other people’s data. The Johns Hopkins event is called HopHacks.

NEWS COVERAGE OPPORTUNITY: Work on the projects will end at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 7. The projects then will be publicly displayed and judged between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Members of the news media will be welcome to observe and conduct interviews during this part of the event.

WHERE: The project presentations will take place in the Mudd Hall Auditorium at The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore. A university map can be viewed at http://bit.ly/KEjya8. On this map, Mudd Hall is Building 52.

WHAT: About 250 university students from Johns Hopkins and other schools such as MIT, University of Maryland and Princeton are expected to participate. Roughly half will be Johns Hopkins students. The entrants will work individually or in teams of up to four people. Each single entrant or team must come up with a proposed computer application or tool. Working through the 36-hour time limit, often without a sleeping break, the students must write computer code to turn their idea into reality. Past winners have devised an iPhone application that can guide a user through the administration of CPR while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Another winning app, designed to work with Google Glass, senses when a vehicle is in a serious crash and automatically summons help.

WHY: The students compete for prizes and for points recorded by a national league that ranks schools according to their performance in competitions such as this. There is an educational component as well. “What the students learn at these events is that it is good to experiment and try things out and learn from others,” said Joanne Selinski, director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins. “They find out that learning doesn’t just come from class projects.”

PRIZES: The awards given by the HopHacks judges are a $1,024 grand prize, a $512 second place prize, and a $256 third place prize. Additional prizes may be awarded by individual event sponsors.

EVENT CONTACT: Jordan Matelsky, one of the student organizers, is the contact for the event. His cell phone number is 973-970-3556. His email is joran.matelsky@jhu.edu.

More information can be found on the event website: http://hophacks.com/.


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