Dozens of students participate in ‘hackathon’ event

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More than 60 students brought laptops, imagination and teamwork to a computer “hackathon” on Feb. 2 known as AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack, according to an AT&T announcement.

The event, at the thINCubator in Utica, was a collaboration between AT&T, Tech4Kidz, thINCubator and Hack Upstate for students between ages 8-17.

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon kicked off the event with welcoming remarks, regarding the importance for students to explore technology fields and careers; she encouraged them to work hard to be the next tech industry leaders and innovators.

AT&T Mohawk Valley Youth Hack was similar to other hackathons locally, in which computer programmers and others involved in software and hardware development collaborate on projects to solve challenges with technology.

Students took part in building apps, games, websites, animations and interactive stories related to cyberbullying and internet safety, while being judged on teamwork, imagination, code and design skills.

The event featured mentors from area colleges, tech companies and local developers assisting the participants. Final projects were judged by a panel including local tech experts, community leaders and education experts.

The innovative experience for local students “further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) and coding-related educational programing in the Mohawk Valley and throughout the state,” said Amy Hines-Kramer, president, AT&T New York.

Pam Puri, founder, Tech4Kidz, said “our goal in this hackathon is to engage young minds in the area of technology and help them become confident and critical thinkers....”

Stacey Smith, assistant director, thINCubator, said “supporting an event like this to expose Mohawk Valley youth to coding is a no-brainer for us....Yes, it’s the fastest-growing profession in the world, but it also gets our kids digging into the creative process, problem-solving, and thinking about feasibility and impact....”

Jesse Peplinski, partner, Hack Upstate, said “we hope events like this will spark the youths’ interest in technology and ultimately keep them here after they graduate....”

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