Hack the North 2021: Tapping into tech and gaining valuable skills along the way

Friday, September 17, 2021

Most students develop an interest in technology and programming long before they begin their post-secondary education.

The path to becoming a developer, analyst or software engineer does not usually start in a computer science course at university, but in the opportunities available to students outside the classroom. One such opportunity is Hack the North — the annual hackathon sponsored by the Faculties of Mathematics and Engineering — taking place this weekend from Friday, September 17 to Sunday, September 19.

Most of the 36 hours of events are taking place virtually, with some in-person aspects of the event.

“Hack the North exists to give anyone the ability and the opportunity to dream big,” said Jessica Zhang, one of the co-directors of the event. “Whether that’s through workshops or mentorship, whether that’s through the speaker panels or networking, we’re connecting people and giving them a space and the resources to build something amazing.”

composite image of students on Zoom

Bringing together more than 3,000 students from Canada and around the globe, Hack the North is a unique student-led hackathon. In its eighth year, the event operates in partnership with the Faculty of Mathematics and the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. The two faculties provide ongoing logistical support and funding.

Hack the North is sponsored by some of the biggest and most innovative global and local tech brands, including Hootsuite, Facebook, Google, Cisco, D2L and Ubisoft.

Emily Wang, the other co-director, said the partnerships and sponsorships are instrumental in the success of Hack the North. Some sponsors also provide access to exciting application programming interfaces — APIs — which participants can use to create apps.

“Hackers are free to use whatever technology or platform they want during the event, so we don’t have any limitations or restrictions in that way,” Emily said. “But we do have certain sponsors that have their own APIs that hackers can use, and there are special API prizes as well.”

Read more about Hack the North on Waterloo News. Also visit the Hack the North website for more information about this year’s event and the keynote speakers.

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