Penguins Attend Local Hack Day

By Tina Kalenits

Jambar Contributor

Local Hack Day hosted by Youngstown Penguin Hackers at Youngstown State University is an event for anyone to demonstrate projects they’re working on while also learning something new.

Projects are usually related to science, engineering, technology or mathematics, and they are demonstrated to a group of sponsors and mentors.

Anthony Hake, treasurer for Youngstown Penguin Hackers and senior information technology major, said he was the lead organizer for the Nov. 16 event.

Participants of Hack Day at YSU pose for a photo in Meshel Hall. Photo by Tina Kalenits/Jambar Contributor

“We want people to come together, network, talk about what they’re passionate about, what they’re working on and share that passion, share that motivation, with one another,” Hake said.

“We have this community of go-getters, movers, shakers, people who want to make the world better by becoming the inventors of tomorrow,” he added.

This was the sixth annual Local Hack Day at YSU. It was hosted by the Youngstown Penguin Hackers in Meshel Hall, which was provided as the venue by the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems.

Local Hack Day is celebrated internationally, originally being organized by Major League Hacking in New York.

Major League Hacking, founded in 2013, operates a league for student hacking events across North America.

“What makes this Local Hack Day different from other ones is we’re no longer following MLH’s guidelines for organizing Local Hack Day. We branched off and made it our own 12-hour Hackathon,” Hake said.

Local Hack Day is not following the new three-day format set by Major League Hacking. Instead, they stick with the original 12-hour format.

“We didn’t go with it because we personally disagreed with it, and it was expensive,” Hake said.

Local Hack Day is always open and free to the public, and it is a precursor to a much larger event, HackYSU, in February.

Photo by Tina Kalenits/Jambar Contributor

“What we call hacking is either coming together or working independently on a project you’re passionate about,” Hake said.

He said attendees are not hacking anything. It’s instead a way for students to hone skills they’re working on and get ideas to push projects further. 

“Think of it as like a ‘makeathon.’ That’s what we’re doing here,” Hake said.

Ralph Streb, president for Youngstown Penguin Hackers and senior computer information systems major, said this is event is an excellent way for the community and students to learn new things and develop opportunities for internships or potential careers.

“They get a lot more one-on-one time even in these group settings to learn a skill they may want to use for the Hackathon coming up in February,” Streb said.

Harsh Shah, vice president for Youngstown Penguin Hackers and sophomore computer science major, said learning something new every day and spreading the word is the organization’s primary goal.

“This event is focusing on beginners who want to start learning something new, and we have talks on everything from software to hardware,” Shah said.

This year’s Local Hack Day had a turnout of 48 attendees, which is up by more than a dozen over previous years.

HackYSU is tentatively scheduled for Feb. 21 through Feb. 23 from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.