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First-ever “Hackpalachia” hackathon comes to campus Sept. 28

Baylee DeMuth | Sep 9, 2019

First-ever “Hackpalachia” hackathon comes to campus Sept. 28

Baylee DeMuth | Sep 9, 2019

The first-ever Hackpalachia, an inclusive and social entrepreneurship-focused hackathon, will take place on Sat., Sept. 28 at Ohio University’s Russ College of Engineering and Technology in the Academic & Research Center (ARC).

Hackpalachia is the brainchild of Develop Appalachia, a non-profit organization co-founded earlier this year by Russ College alumnus Eric May, BSISE ’15, and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and co-founder of Develop Appalachia Chang Liu to address socioeconomic development in the Appalachian region. The all-day hackathon challenges students in engineering and business to develop teamwork and leadership skills, learn more about the entrepreneurial process, and build lasting relationships.

May and his team want students in the Appalachian region to have greater exposure to entrepreneurship.

“I view it as a good training opportunity,” May said. “For me, the real goal of this is to get students into those environments and challenge them in ways that they won’t get challenged in school and help them grow as individuals.”

At the event, students and young professionals will work with experts who will guide them as they tackle tough problems with real community impact. Teams will pitch their ideas to judges to win prizes including an automatic entry into Google's START program, which features $3,000 in Google Cloud credits.

Liu said local competitions are rare, and he thinks students who participate will gain real-life experiences and the chance to marvel at what can be achieved in just one day.

“What I really want to see is my computer science students taking the knowledge they learned from the class and applying it to the projects they work on during this event,” Liu said. “Hopefully it will give them motivation to do even better in my class when they come back.”

But while hackathons are typically geared toward computer science students and others who want to write code, May believes writing code is just one piece of the puzzle.

“Something I tell engineers is: Your engineering skills don’t matter unless you can sell,” May said. “All these other things go into building a small company, and engineering is just one small piece of it.”

Register for the event at

Colleen Carow and Marissa McDaid contributed to this story.