UT Welcoming Hackers to Event Aimed at Improving Reliability, Security

It’s an event organized by a group of UT engineering students that poses a computer-era challenge: can you hack it?

Volhacks is hosting its inaugural hack-a-thon September 30–October 2, and while the name might sound like something businesses would want to avoid, the expertise of students coming to the event is something in high demand.

“This is an opportunity for students to hack on software and hardware applications and to try to find potential flaws and problems with them, something very valuable for businesses,” said UT’s Sam Rose, a senior in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Companies see their wares get put through the wringer while students get to meet with representatives and recruiters from those companies, so it really benefits both.

“At the same time, we want to keep the focus on being creative while solving real-world problems.”

Participating businesses will range from computing giants IBM and Cisco to social media corporations Yik Yak and Eventbrite to local powerhouses like Pilot Flying J and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The event will take place in the Min H. Kao Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Building.

Lee Martin, who heads UT’s Engineering Entrepreneurship program, also helped bring the event to fruition.

It’s all part of a growing movement in computing to have the most proficient hackers use their skills for good. There’s even a professional league built around the concept, Major League Hacking, which is also a partner for the UT event.

“By getting students at the event together with experts in the industry it really helps boost the growth in the next generation of technology,” said Rose. “It could be security issues, it could be development, it could be reliability, but a lot of major questions are answered by field tests like our hackathon.”

Rose said that well more than two hundred students and groups have registered. Participants are coming from other institutions such as Vanderbilt University and Georgia Tech.

Tennessee’s central location, combined with a surge of interest in events such as this, makes the event a perfect showcase for students and their talents.

“It’s going to be packed,” said Rose. “Hopefully, a lot of good can come out of this.”

In addition to the prizes and networking opportunities, Rose said that the involvement of the Anderson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation might further open doors for students.

Interested students can register for Volhacks here.

C O N T A C T :

David Goddard (865-974-0683, david.goddard@utk.edu)