Techies collaborate during 24-hour ‘hackathon’ at York Tech

Armed with laptops, tablets, smartphones, super-fast Internet and some good old fashioned white boards and notebooks, teams of Web developers, programmers and designers got down to business Friday afternoon during York Technical College’s first “Wired Hack.”

At The Hive in downtown Rock Hill, the teams were given a problem and just 24 hours to complete it. Events like Wired Hack have become popular in recent years as a way for techies to collaborate, network and learn.

The teams were to create a series of Web pages or a mobile application that contained compelling visualizations of information they were provided about students at York Tech. The idea is for the visualizations to appeal to potential future York Tech students, said Edie Dille, the school’s associate dean for business and information technology.

“This is the kind of situation you’d find in the real world,” said James Thomas, York Tech’s information technology department chair.

The participants will have to use their technical, creative, entrepreneurial and communication skills to be declared the winners, Thomas said. Shortly after 1 p.m. Saturday, the teams will be judged by employees from software companies Microsoft and Logic League, Dille said.

York Tech alum and Columbia-based Web developer Tommy Kahlow was on hand as a mentor for teams that “got stuck.” He said he packed his toothbrush and was ready to stay in The Hive for the full 24 hours. Events like this can teach young people a lot, he said.

“Coming from college, you don’t really get the experience of taking a project from start to finish,” he said.

As soon as they got the problem, York Tech student Mehal Patel and his teammates were hard at work, brainstorming on a white board as they looked over the data sets. He was looking forward to learning from others involved in the Wired Hack, although that was only part of why he was participating.

“I just wanted to be challenged,” Patel said.

The Wired Hack was held in conjunction with the launch of Comporium’s new Zipstream gigabit broadband, which is 85 times faster than the company’s standard Internet speed.