Great New Apps are the Goal at UB's First Hackathon

Round-the-clock contest gives geeks a chance to learn to create software under fire

Release Date: March 21, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. A student organization focused on excellence in computing will hold the University at Buffalo's first hackathon, UB Hacking 2012, on March 23-24 with the goal of generating creative, new software programs (apps). The event is being held in the spirit of the original meaning of hacking: coding and building programs for computer software.

UB Hacking will be held in the Salvadore Lounge in Davis Hall on the North Campus beginning at 5 p.m.March 23rd and will last until late in the evening on March 24.

Best time for media to attend is March 24 at 6 p.m. when teams will demo their software programs for judges. On-site contact is Nick DiRienzo.

Despite the term's connotations, event organizers explain that hackathons are perfectly legal events in which computer programmers and other software developers collaborate intensively on software-related projects during a specific period of time.

According to the event website at, the event is "all about hacking together something awesome by using the skills you picked up from classes or on your own, and then showing it off."

"UB Hacking 2012 is a contest that aims to give students at UB the opportunity to both develop and show off their software development skills," explains Thomas Furlani, PhD, director of the UB Center for Computational Research (CCR) in UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, and interim associate vice president for information technology.

"The time limit adds a level of stress by forcing you to make quick decisions and think on your feet," says Nick Di Rienzo, a UB freshman, majoring in computer science and engineering and vice chair of the university's chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest and most prestigious scientific and educational computing society, which is sponsoring the event. "They're thrown into this real-life scenario that they can't get in class."

All full- and part-time students at UB are welcome to participate in the free event, even if they have no coding experience. During UB Hacking, some sponsors will present "tech talks" about software used by their companies and software development in general.

Although not quite a sleepover, students will need to bring a laptop, and plenty of creativity and enthusiasm, while organizers supply tables, chairs, power strips and food as well as designated places for sleeping.

Criteria for winning include a software program's impact and usefulness, design, usability, functionality and how "polished" or complete it is.

Prizes include the newest iPad, XBOX 360, or Roku 2 XD for each member of a winning team.

In addition to ACM, other sponsors are UB's CCR, Synacor, Rackspace Hosting, GitHub, InfoTech Niagara,, twilio and SendGrid; some sponsors will award winning teams with additional prizes for using their technologies to develop software.

UB's ACM chapter has raised nearly $8,000 from local and national companies to fund the event; it also has secured sponsors and judges to participate.

Judges come from a variety of backgrounds and include entrepreneur programmer Dan Magnuszewski, entrepreneurial designer, Nicholas Barone, Geoffrey Challen, PhD, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at UB, Amin Ghadersohi, a scientific programmer at CCR and a UB computer science and engineering alum and Synacor Engineer, Mike Canzoneri.

Media Contact Information

Ellen Goldbaum
News Content Manager
Tel: 716-645-4605
Twitter: @UBmednews