Approximately 300 college students from around the world are expected to visit Missouri University of Science and Technology today to participate in a hackathon competition. PickHacks is what organizers call a 36-hour “invention marathon” in which students learn to build teams and solve problems creatively.

The event will begin with an opening ceremony at 6 p.m. and conclude with a closing ceremony at 1 p.m. Sunday. Both ceremonies will take place in St. Pat’s Ballroom of the Havener Center at Missouri S&T.

Hackathons are short-term events where small teams work together to create a working software prototype or application. Christopher Gu, a PickHacks organizer and junior in computer science at S&T from Chesterfield, Missouri, likens a hackathon to an “invention marathon” in which participants create a product or service through a series of brainstorming sessions and ideations. “We encourage anyone who is interested to join in – whether they’ve participated in 100 hackathons or are just starting out with PickHacks,” says Gu. 

“A hackathon is not just for computer science or other technical majors,” says Luis Ocampo, a PickHacks organizer and a sophomore in information science and technology from Chesterfield, Missouri. “When you are making any product, you need people with programming skills, but you also need artists, entrepreneurs, marketers and anyone else who can contribute to the build.”

This year’s theme is athletics, and teams will brainstorm new approaches to an existing issue or explore a new idea in the field. PickHacks challenges students to take an idea and make it into a product while considering customer needs, feature specifications and meeting a deadline. The event is a part of Major League Hacking, an organization dedicated to supporting student-run university hackathons. 

“This year, the students have more than doubled the number of participants building new apps and software,” says Nicole Goetz, Curtis Laws Wilson Library’s outreach coordinator at S&T and advisor to the PickHacks student organizers. “The event gives the students a hands-on opportunity to learn and participate in a fast-paced work environment.”

For more information about the event and to see a complete schedule of events, visit pickhacks.io.