Computing for Compassion hosts hackathon

Contestants code for a good cause. Photo courtesy of Baylor University

Audrey Patterson | Reporter

Computing for Compassion is hosting its fourth Wacode, a 36-hour hackathon, from Feb. 26 to Feb. 27 in the Blume Conference Center on the fifth floor of Cashion.

According to its website, Computing for Compassion is a “student-led organization whose mission is to serve compassion-based organizations through the appropriate application of technology. We help provide technological solutions and education to local schools, non-profits, and churches in the Waco, TX community.”

Boise, Idaho, junior and Waco committee chair Zachary Scherer said Wacode is a “meeting of the minds” that allows students to use their creativity to build something practical that can help others.

Registration is still open and is available on the Wacode website. Scherer said this is the longest hackathon they’ve had, and students will either sleep there or pull an all-nighter to accomplish the prompts.

Scherer said he recommends bringing a pillow and blanket for the students who want to sleep.

Austin senior and Computing for Compassion president Brooklynn Stone said Wacode is a coding competition during which contestants build an application or website based on philanthropy-based prompts in teams with students from universities around Central Texas.

“We don’t distinguish anyone from any schools intentionally,” Scherer said. “It’s purely about the individuals, wherever they’re from, just coming together and building something cool.”

Scherer said sponsors and professionals from various fields join the event to do workshops and networking opportunities.

“Competitors can exchange business cards along with just having various conversations with them,” Scherer said. “In previous years, we were sponsored by Credera, and I legitimately had a 30-minute conversation with the professional from Credera.”

The Wacode event is free and is open to all skill levels and majors; coding experience is not required.

“In terms of concern of knowledge and skills, we will teach you a lot of the basics,” Scherer said. “We have, I think, two separate workshops planned for just introducing people to certain ideas and how to do them. I know for sure we will have a web design.”

Stone said in past years, students built AI’s that recognize what people are wearing and determine the carbon footprint of the items.

Scherer said his favorite part of Wacode is “seeing the growth of the novice competitors. It’s just really cool to see them go from like, ‘I don’t know anything about coding’ to building a full website.”

Stone said Computing for Compassion is “like a regular service organization with a technology spin.”

“In the past, we’ve gone to an elementary school or middle school and just taught kids fun little computer science-type skills,” Stone said. “A lot of the Waco schools don’t have computer science, and it’s such an integral industry. So we just want to open the door to that and show them kind of what that looks like.”