HackDuke Emphasizes 'Coding for Good' March 29-30 at Duke University

Gathering of college students, others from around U.S. will focus on using technology to promote social change

HackDuke, a gathering of college students from around the U.S. who will work on ways to use technology for promoting social change, returns to Duke University March 29-30.

The theme of the event is "Coding for Good," and will include experts from nonprofits, companies and charities, including Durham Cares, Palantir, Community Empowerment Fund, Genesis Home, Urban Ministries of Durham and Google.

Though there are substantial monetary prizes for the best projects, HackDuke focuses on collaboration, discussing important social problems, and working as a group to build meaningful solutions with a positive impact.

"One of our goals is to bring programmers out of the classroom, past their problem sets, to work on real projects," said Ashley Qian, a Duke junior and lead organizer for HackDuke 2014. "We want participants to experience learning and risk-taking, and prepare our fellow students for a real world that expects you to learn quickly, work well with groups and communicate well. HackDuke helps programmers practice all of that in a great atmosphere."

More than 500 students from across the U.S. participated in the first Duke-sponsored hackathon last fall. They generated more than 100 projects and were awarded more than $10,000 in prizes. A glove that converted sign language to speech earned the $5,000 grand prize.

"The upcoming event will take the hackathon to the next level," Qian said. "Not only will programmers be working with each other on cool projects, they will be working with seasoned engineers within their field and experts outside of their field to address real-world problems in areas like education, inequality, wellness. The sky is the limit."

HackDuke is open to students, staff and "anyone with passion" for creating and applying technology to promote social change, Qian said. 

For more information, visit http://www.hackduke.org.