Artificial intelligence. Computer science. Virtual reality. Blockchain.
From Tik Tok trends to AI-generated avatars, from NFTs to chatbots that write poetry, evolving technologies are changing how we make, think about, own, present, and share art – creating fresh opportunities and new challenges in our evermore digital world.
UConn undergraduates are invited to tackle the issues that arise as “Art Meets Technology” at 2023’s HackUConn – a 20-hour in-person hackathon that aims to bring together young innovators and industry experts for a non-stop, fast-paced invention competition.
“We chose ‘Art Meets Technology’ to bring HackUConn to areas we have yet to explore and to expose our participants to the problems and opportunities that exist within this space,” says Sophia Manos ’24 (CLAS), the marketing team co-lead for HackUConn 2023.
A hackathon is an opportunity for designers, engineers, project managers, business and marketing talent, innovators, entrepreneurs, and any interested individuals to come together and innovate hardware and software solutions to real problems. HackUConn first launched in 2016 as a way to help contribute to the University’s now thriving and collaborative entrepreneurial culture.
“HackUConn is a unique experience that has allowed me to connect with students I may not otherwise know – the friendships that have grown from this one, 20-hour event truly spread beyond the event timeframe,” says Katherine Bates ’25 (CLAS), 2023 HackUConn’s student planning lead. “I have been exposed to so many new and innovative ideas through HackUConn, it is truly an experience like no other.”
This year’s HackUConn event will begin at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, March 3 (with check-in between 4:00-5:00 pm), and run until noon on Saturday, March 4, at Werth Tower in Storrs.
Registration for the event is now open, and students are encouraged to register by Friday, February 24. Students can register individually and then join a team at the event, or have the option of building a team before the event and registering together, though teams cannot bring in prior work – hacking can only be done during the event’s announced hacking period.
Teams will identify problems that they care about related to the duality of art and technology that they might be unaware even exist, the organizers explain, and then work together to devise creative and innovative solutions to those problems, with the help of mentoring and workshops from industry professionals and UConn faculty and staff. Teams will have access to resources including hacking supplies, 3D printers, and laser cutters to help build their prototypes.
Over the course of the 20 consecutive hours, the student teams will brainstorm, prototype, and pitch their solutions to a panel of judges, who then select winning ideas and award prizes. Some previous HackUConn winners have gone on to later pitch their hacked ideas to UConn’s Get Seeded, which gives students opportunities to earn seed funding and mentorship to help launch an entrepreneurial idea.
Coding or computer science experience is not necessary to participate – HackUConn encourages any undergraduate students with an interest in the theme of “Art Meets Technology” or a desire to develop entrepreneurial and teamwork skills to sign up.
“The student experiences fostered by HackUConn are truly some of the most unique and rewarding that I have witnessed during my time as a staff member here at our University,” says Aaron Rosman, operations manager for the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “Nothing compares to seeing a group of students of all backgrounds and lived experiences come together, get a little out of their comfort zone, and try to tackle the problems our chosen theme presents in their own authentic style. It’s a marathon event, but every student who competes in this space comes out a champion in my mind.”
The event is free, and food is provided to participants. For more information, or to register for this year’s HackUConn, visit hackuconn.com.