Wacode hosts hackathon event

Mario Lopez Martinez, president of Computing for Compassion and co-founder of Wacode, speaks about his organization during a pre-interest meeting. Photo courtesy of Mario Lopez Martinez

By Alyssa Foy | Reporter

The second Wacode hackathon will be held from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Blume Conference Center on Baylor’s campus.

Organized by the Baylor student organization Computing for Compassion, Wacode is a 12-hour hackathon described by the Waco team as an “invention marathon.”

Registration is still open for this event, which is bringing together nearly 100 students from 11 universities for a full day of competition. Contestants can participate as individuals or teams to brainstorm and create technological solutions to specific challenges facing the Waco and Central Texas area.

Rioverde, Mexico senior Mario Lopez Martinez, president of Computing for Compassion and co-founder of Wacode, said the event participation has grown tremendously since last year.

“It is really just seeing our community, not just Baylor, but MCC students, students from Dallas, Hill College and TSTC, come together and share such creative ideas about how to solve problems in our community,” Lopez Martinez said.

Lopez Martinez said the specific community issues that competitors will be combating Saturday include environmental sustainability, violence prevention and road safety.

A diverse judging panel of students and industry professionals alike will come together to evaluate the products created Saturday, and a $100 cash prize will be awarded to each winner on the winning team. Additional prizes will be given out to the top teams.

The Wacode event is free for students to register and has multiple corporate and community sponsors, such as 5-hour Energy and consulting firm Credera.

San Antonio senior Billicarole Evans, treasurer of Computing for Compassion, said even students who don’t take home a major prize still will have access to a plethora of resources at the event, including workshops taught by industry leaders, career guidance and on-site job interviews.

Lopez Martinez said interview rooms are reserved for the multiple corporate sponsors who will be observing student work, potentially inviting students to an interview to discuss internships and full-time job opportunities.

Evans said participation in the hackathon can also be a great addition to student resumes.

“That’s been my in with a lot of different companies, just being able to talk about [Wacode],” Evans said. “Even if you don’t win, even if you don’t meet an employer there, having it on your resume already looks really good to employers. Not just anybody goes and spends their whole entire day coding for fun.”

Computing for Compassion has three main branches: service, which includes IT projects in the community; Ignite CS, which focuses on teaching coding and computer science fundamentals to Waco ISD students; and the Wacode event.

A common theme throughout Computing for Compassion events is students gaining professional development and hands-on experience.

“Obviously, when you’re in the classroom, you’re learning theory, you’re learning a lot about history and how things came to be, but events like this one really give students an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to things that may be important to them,” Lopez Martinez said.