Second annual HackMT pushes students to get creative


Photo and story by Austin Jones / Contributing Writer

MTSU hosted the second annual HackMT event last Friday through Sunday in the Science Building. The event was a 36-hour “Hack-a-thon,” hosted in partnership with Hack Tennessee and the TN STEM Innovation Network.

Organized by MTSU’s Computer Science department, HackMT is designed to bring computer science students and hobbyists from the Middle Tennessee area together with professionals in order to build skills, forge relationships and build confidence.

The event began on Friday with team leaders choosing team members, pitching ideas and delegating duties among the team. The teams had 36 hours to complete their projects, some of which included a virtual reality game and a MTSU parking app.

But not all projects get finished. In fact, according to Dr. Chrisila Pettey, most of them don’t. Pettey is the chairperson of the Computer Science department. Pettey said that even when projects aren’t finished before the deadline, students still walk away with more confidence in themselves.

“For some (students), it’s that feeling of, ‘I learned I actually could do it,’” says Pettey.

Michael Schmidt, an MTSU Computer Science student and team leader, participated in last year’s HackMT. Schmidt said that he was very excited for this year’s event since he knows more now. His team attempted to create a virtual reality puzzle game in which the player must find his or her way out of a maze. Schmidt said that even though the idea is fairly straightforward, executing it properly is very complicated.

Schmidt said he would like to see more students involved with HackMT, and not just computer science students.

“For outsiders, it seems very daunting, and the name ‘HackMT’ doesn’t help that,” says Schmidt. “To hack something means to own it. It’s not about owning things, it’s about making things.”

Schmidt and Pettey both said that they’ve noticed a better response to this year’s HackMT. Pettey said she hopes to continue the event. Some students have said they wish it happened more often.

But Pettey says, “Once a year is all we’re doing. It’s a lot of work.”

HackMT ended Sunday at 11:30 a.m., following a showcase of all the projects.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Marissa Gaston email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

For more updates, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter/Instagram at @Sidelines_Life.

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