- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Hundreds of college students are depriving themselves of sleep for 48 hours this weekend in a computer hacking marathon at the University of Missouri that has tripled in size since its inaugural weekend last year.

HackMizzou, which runs through Sunday, is a “hackathon” in Columbia at which roughly 350 students are competing for a $4,000 technology prize pack, the Columbia Daily Tribune (https://bit.ly/1vmTeSG) reported.

Organizers say the event will yield some “amazing projects,” like Bully Finder, software created by one student hacker at last year’s event that allows parents to access their child’s social network profile and search for abusive behavior.

“The best way I can describe a hackathon is an invention competition,” said Mike Swift, commissioner of Major League Hacking, the governing body of all things hacking. “It’s a celebration of building.”

University of Missouri senior Gabrielle Perdieu, a business major who organized HackMizzou, said nearly half of the weekend’s participants are from Mizzou, while others came from the University of Illinois, Purdue University and other colleges.

A dozen high school students hitched a ride from St. Louis to participate, while some teams from Canada also are coming, Perdieu said.

Teams of two to five will spend the weekend creating computer and mobile applications and different data interpretation software. In one of last year’s projects, hackers programmed drones to fly over houses and appraise their values.

“These are things that aren’t just really cool,” Perdieu said, “but they’re practical, too. . It’s such a creative process, that at the end of the weekend, you have these amazing projects.”

Swift said Major League Hacking supports hackathons across North America and the United Kingdom, including the University of Missouri event, which the group hopes will spur growth in programming in the Midwest. It is bringing a hardware lab, complete with drones and virtual reality headsets to woo the most advanced hackers.

“It’s every computer programmer’s dream,” Perdieu said.


Information from: Columbia Daily Tribune, https://www.columbiatribune.com

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