Hackanooga is coming back to the Gig City.
The 48-hour hack-a-thon-which is a multiday event in which participants engage in collaborative computer programing-will focus on education and workforce development and provide participants the chance to use the city’s gig network to meet needs in those fields.
The first Hackanooga in 2012 brought nearly 70 people from across North America, and this year’s event coincides with the National Day of Civic Hacking, which is an international event with a mission to improve communities and governments.
The term “hacker” doesn’t necessarily mean someone who is stealing passwords or taking down national websites. A hacker is also a technology enthusiast.
After the first Hackanooga, Kelly McCarthy, partner at Easy Designs and Hackanooga organizer, defined a hacker as “any person who is trying to work on an application, a program, trying to make it do something that it currently doesn’t do in the spirit of exploration.”
McCarthy said Friday via email that hackers are “some of the most altruistic people you’ll ever meet and are really trying to make a difference doing the thing they love with the tools at their disposal.”
She also said via email that her favorite definition of a hack-a-thon comes from an article called “WTF Is a Hack-a-thon?” by David Fontenot.
Essentially, a hack-a-thon is an event where “people come together and use technology to transform ideas into reality,” according to Fontenot’s piece.
McCarthy said that description is beautiful and broad enough to cover almost every hack-a-thon, including Hackanooga.
Hackanooga is presented by Easy Designs in partnership with The Enterprise Center, Open Chattanooga and Mozilla.
“Hackanooga is a great chance for the city of Chattanooga to gather together around building a more open community, all in partnership with an international movement of citizens owning their governments,” Daniel Ryan, co-captain of the Open Chattanooga Brigade, said in a prepared statement.
The first event spawned nine different projects, and several of the project leaders went on to apply for a grant through the Mozilla Ignite Challenge. Click here to read about that challenge.
Two projects-Engage 3D and Big Blue Button-were funded after the first Hackanooga.
“The skill and passion demonstrated by our local designers, developers and community activists over the course of a weekend was truly inspirational,” McCarthy said in a prepared statement. “The first event exceeded our expectations, and we’re excited to see what this year’s Hackanoogans can do.”
This year’s event is scheduled for May 31-June 1.
And ideas that come out of this event could evolve into submissions for the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund, which will be offering $90,000 worth of grants in June to help apps pilot their programs in Chattanooga.
The deadline to apply for the community fund grants is June 13.
“Hackanooga is a wonderful opportunity for both funded Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund project teams and potential summer applicants to advance their work through a weekend of coding, collaboration and community,” Lindsey Frost Cleary, community catalyst for the Mozilla Gigabit Community Fund in Chattanooga, said in a prepared statement.
Hackanooga’s organizers have positioned the event as a potential continuation track for projects developed during The Company Lab’s recent 48-Hour Launch, which shared the focus on education and workforce development, and the Public Education Foundation’s new Teacherprenuer program.
Projects that got starts in these programs will have the chance to draw more talent and resources to their teams in an effort to turn their app ideas into actual software and living programs, according to a news release.
“Our goal is to maximize the impact of our collective efforts to benefit Chattanooga’s students and workforce,” McCarthy also said. “If Hackanooga can supply the environment (and caffeine) that fuels even one imaginative team to positively impact our community, then we’ve accomplished something amazing.”
Hackanooga is free and everyone is welcome, but space is limited, so those interested are urged to register early at Hackaold.nooga.com.
“Hackanooga is open to anyone who works in this space (developers, designers, project managers, programmers, information architects, etc.) and folks who have an innovative idea but may not have the skills to execute on it (teachers, administrators, civic leaders, etc.),” McCarthy said. ‘When all of these different people come together, that’s where the real magic happens.”