HackIllinois celebrates its 10th anniversary


Layli Nazarova

Participants of HackIllinois watch the introductory presentation on Friday.

By Layli Nazarova, Staff Writer

From Feb. 24 to Feb. 26, HackIllinois welcomed all people interested in computer science and coding to the Campus Instructional Facility and the Thomas M. Siebel Center for Computer Science to celebrate its 10th anniversary, learn and compete.

It’s the first in-person Hackathon since 2020, and this is what makes it “special,” according to Jonathan Gao, co-director of HackIllinois.

“It’s our first in-person event in three years, and it’s our anniversary all together, which is super exciting and makes it even more special,” Gao said.

HackIllinois welcomes people with all levels of programming skills, starting with beginners.

“(HackIllinois) is beginner friendly,” Gao said. “I think it’s really special to see a lot of people who are kind of new to computer science and the ones who have a ton of experience coming together and learning a lot, getting to meet people from companies at their very first time programming.”

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    According to the participants, joining the hackathon as a beginner opens new opportunities for networking and skill development.

    “I just think it is like a good opportunity, especially as a beginner to just broaden my skills and meet more people,” said Samantha Martinez, HackIllinois participant and computer science beginner.

    HackIllinois provides opportunities to acquire more knowledge and skills through workshops provided by sponsors and Hackathon’s team.

    “It is a great way to learn about CS in such a short timeline, we have a variety of workshops,” said Deeya Bodas, co-director of HackIllinois. “If you want to learn about GitHub, you can do that so easily here instead of sitting through like, six hours of YouTube tutorials.”

    This year, the HackIllinois team created an app which facilitates the process of navigation, communication during the event and allows users to see the leaderboard in real time. 

    The whole event was prepared and organized by students with the participation of sponsors, including John Deere, Caterpillar, Cardano and more.

    “It’s made by students for students,” Bodas said. “We’re (a) 52-person staff,  and this is as much their event as it is mine and Jonathan’s. They’ve put in so much work and effort into making this event really shine, and I think it’s really going to do that this weekend.”

    The HackIllinois team hopes this landmark event will continue the legacy and bring even more opportunities for students.

    “There’s a decade’s worth of legacy here, and it is really inspiring to see how Hack has lived on so long, and it’s just only going forward,” Bodas said. “I think we’re gonna get another year of great projects, another year of people really getting a chance to connect with others.”


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