Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Students code through the night at NU’s largest hackathon WildHacks

WildHacks+2024+hackers+created+projects+under+three+tracks%3A+urban+planning%2C+productivity+and+wellness.
Illustration by Beatrice Villaflor
WildHacks 2024 hackers created projects under three tracks: urban planning, productivity and wellness.

From Pennsylvania to Illinois, students coded through the night in WildHacks, NU’s largest hackathon, from Friday to Sunday. 

“Hackathons in general are just a way to learn programming skills and develop stuff in a collaborative environment,” McCormick senior and WildHacks Director Dilan Nair said. “That’s what WildHacks strives to do.”

Participants compete for track and challenge prizes in groups of one to four, and submissions include a link to programs in a public GitHub repository and a two minute showcase video. WildHacks provided collaborative spaces and overnight accommodations in Mudd Science and Engineering Library and Technological Institute. 

This year’s WildHacks theme was “Beyond the Books,” inspiring a bookstore and mystical quality to the projects. Projects can be submitted to as many challenges as possible and one of three tracks: urban planning, productivity and wellness.

“We’re trying to (have more of a theme) because it helps us with making more tracks, which is huge for preventing people from submitting things that they’ve already built,” Nair said.

The competition’s judges consisted of NU faculty members, and the event’s sponsors included Deloitte and CodeCrafters.io. They evaluated projects on the criteria of technical complexity, usefulness, originality, design and presentation. 

Planning for WildHacks began in Fall Quarter, which included designing a website, reserving rooms and obtaining sponsors, according to Nair. 

WildHacks is also registered with Major League Hacking, a global community of programmers, which provides resources and challenge prizes from their affiliated partners such as Adobe Express and Fidelity.

Before the hacking began on Friday evening, WildHacks hosted a Workshop Night, which included introduction sessions to prepare those with minimal coding experience and expand the accessibility of the event. Some workshops were in partnership with NU student organizations like Emerging Coders, IEEE NU and Develop + Innovate for Social Change. 

While most participants have coding experience, WildHacks Director of Sponsorship and SESP freshman Kris Yun said she encourages a variety of students with different majors to be a part of the event. 

“When it comes to hackathons like WildHacks, you need people from so many different areas of study.” Yun said. “You need, if you’re developing an app for mental health, someone who has experience of a background in psychology.”

Weinberg sophomores Yong-Yu Huang and Joanna Soltys partnered to create Bearly, a website for friends to join virtual rooms and work together. Bearly includes a chat box, timer feature and individual task lists for users to study with friends.  

Working until early hours in the morning, Huang said they did not have much backend experience in coding and server hosting, so they were proud to complete the project.

Soltys said she found her time at WildHacks fulfilling and is excited to return to WildHacks to see her growth over a year. 

“Being able to start a project that we knew we had absolutely no idea how to do in the first place and still be able to come up with some sort of product at the end of it was rewarding,” she said. 

Email: [email protected] 

X: @kelleylu_

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