MetroHacks - "In a setting like this, brilliant projects coalesce"

This blog posting is brought to you by Abhinav Kurada. Abhinav is the co-founder of MetroHacks - a coding competition for high school students, by high school students. He believes that every high school student should be able to pursue their passion for computer science, especially outside the classroom - and he is putting that belief into action by bringing 200+ high school students to Microsoft’s corporate headquarters in Cambridge for 24 hours of coding, building, and collaborating. The hackathon will take place on May 21-22 at One Cambridge Center and I am honored to be a speaker at the event. Abhinav and I hope you will join us!

From Abhinav:

"Could you imagine what it would be like if over 200 high schoolers were brought together to the same space for 24 hours? Now, imagine these 200 kids are inspiring innovators, serious coders, and dedicated designers - and they are armed with laptops, and unlimited WiFi and amazing food. Some might call it a massive slumber party, but don’t be mistaken. In a setting like this, brilliant projects coalesce. In fact, some of the products and software created during “hackathons” catalyze successful businesses and careers.

MetroHacks is a 24-hour hackathon held at the Microsoft offices in Cambridge, MA. This event will have everything that a successful hackathon requires - WiFi, food, soda, and amazing participants. Of course, MetroHacks can only host so many attendees - just above 200 to be exact. Admissions are competitive, but one does not need to be an accomplished coder to attend. The event team is just looking for people who are dedicated to innovation and creative thinking and can bring their inner fire to the hackathon. 

At the end of the day, however, the beauty of a hackathon lies not in the accomplishments of its participants. One of the goals of the organizing team it to bring together many high schoolers of a similar passion, dedication, and creativity. When one can fit 200 of these future leaders into the same room, something beautiful happens. In this environment, friendships are forged that last for a lifetime. At the end of the day, win or lose, a hackathon is about learning.

One of the biggest problems with Computer Science education in the modern world is that students aren’t taught to make the connection from classroom exercises to industry practices. Hackathons serve as a crash-course to what the actual world of Computer Science is like. Many students get discouraged by their computer science classes. After tracing boring recursive functions, or learning about the specific rules of polymorphism, they become disgruntled with CS. For their whole lives, they’ve heard about how beautiful and exciting the field of CS can be. How is one supposed to tie that supposed dreamland with the rigidness they encounter in school? 

Hackathons are pure computer science education. One learns so much more from jumping into problems in the real world, than spending hours doing the same in a classroom. Sure, students can learn about why polymorphism could be cool in the classroom. At a Hackathon, however, students encounter polymorphism in one of its complex and captivating forms - in the process of creating more enemies for their RPG! When this happens, students are no longer “students” - they have become true followers in the reality of CS.

My fellow founders of MetroHacks share a love for computer science and innovation that takes its root far outside of the classroom setting. It defines their outlook and their motivations. They are accomplished coders, business people, and science enthusiasts holding their own in other hackathons, Olympiads, and other competitions at the national and international levels. However, when some of the founders began to discuss their experiences at past hackathons, a similar philosophy began to emerge. “What if we hosted our own hackathon? What would we do differently?” And at that moment, MetroHacks was born. 

We are ecstatic to bring current and future friends to a city close to our hearts, Cambridge, for what will be one of the greatest 24 hours of our lives, and hopefully yours as well."