Hackathons are nearly a ubiquitous sight for tech savvy netizens, nowadays. Just last week, Coinbase announced the winners of their BitHack event as well as the unveiling of their own app store. At the beginning of March, the Texas Bitcoin Conference’s Hackathon earmarked over $1 million USD in prize to its victors. While the aforementioned hackathons were all Bitcoin or digital currency themed, most hackathons are not.
The University of Virginia (UVa) is hosting its first annual hack.uva event. The event is being sponsored by the likes of nVidia, eBay, WillowTree apps, Capital One, Namecheap, and last but not least: Dogecoin. The hack.uva event will occur in Newcomb Hall from 4/11/14 to 4/13/14. The plan is for 36 hours of programming and 12 hours of rest for the hundreds of contestants in what is already a jam packed schedule. Teams can have up to four participants at max, and hacks will be evaluated on creativity, polish, and usefulness.
I got a chance to interview UVa Hackathon organizer Nishant Shukla about Dogecoin, the upcoming event, and the crypto community at the University. Unfortunately, registration to the event is now closed; however, hack.uva is still looking to raise the amount of Dogecoin donated. The campaign to raise up to 500,000 Dogecoin for the hack.uva event is ongoing until 4/7/14, donate today at hack.uva.io/doge
Caleb: Could you tell us a little more about yourself? What year are you? What are you studying? What first got you into Dogecoin?
Nishant: I will be graduating from the University of Virginia’s Engineering School this year. I’m a Computer Science and Mathematics double major with a minor in Physics. I got interested in Dogecoins from my fascination with a decentralized approach to currency. I found myself using Dogecoins as a sandbox to better understand Bitcoins.
Caleb: I remember seeing a flyer for a Bitcoin info session that you hosted last semester on grounds, how was that?
Nishant: It went really well! The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) at our university had asked me to give a tech talk about an interesting topic, so I presented about bitcoins. These ACM tech talks often cover topics not discussed in courses. It was an invaluable experience for both me and the audience.
Caleb: How many people are involved with organizing this UVa Hackathon?
Nishant: The hack.uva organizing team is composed of about a dozen students passionate about spreading the hacker culture at our university. It’s important to point out that there is no hierarchy in our leadership, as we each contribute and decide equally. This is arguably our strongest feature.
Caleb: Could you highlight the differences in student governance at UVa that make this type of project possible?
Nishant: UVa is very open to student-run organizations. We received tremendous support from UVa’s ACM, Professor Bloomfield from the CS department, UVa’s Information Technology Services, UVa’s Event Planning Services, and ESTUD. This project was possible due to the generous support and positive feedback from our University.
Caleb: How long have you been working on planning this event?
Nishant: Our team started planning hack.uva late Fall 2013.
Caleb: How many hackers have signed up thus far? Any international competitors?
Nishant: So far we have over 300 hackers signed up! A couple international students have contacted us to fund their travel, but as of yet we have not planned that in our budget.
Caleb: How is the Bitcoin community in Charlottesville, is there a Dogecoin community?
Nishant: There are certainly bitcoin miners and hobbyists in Charlottesville. However, I don’t think there is a central meetup group yet. The Dogecoin community is composed of engineering students with a knack for trolling.
Caleb: In your opinion, what role can students play in the Cryptocurrency sphere?
Nishant: Students can really help by using Bitcoins in previously unimaginable ways. I’m aware of a research program by a grad student that uses the bitcoin incentive system in an implementation of a new decentralized internet.
Caleb: Have you mentioned Bitcoin to any faculty? What have been their responses?
Nishant: I have not personally, but the general vibe seems to be that studying bitcoins is a risky academic decision.
Caleb: What gave you the inspiration to raise Dogecoin and get it listed as a sponsor for the event?
Nishant: One of the hackathon organizers, Jasdev Singh, joked about initiating a fundraiser campaign on /r/Dogecoin. Naturally, we took this as far as possible just to see what would happen. We figured if we get more than 100,000 DOGE donated, then that’s enough for /r/Dogecoin to become an official sponsor. Within half a day, the goal was reached and we were in awe.
The moon goal is 500,000 DOGE to have the logo printed on the event shirts! Please donate Dogecoins at https://hackuva.io/doge !
Caleb: Do you anticipate any cryptocurrency themed projects coming out of the hackathon?
Nishant: Yes! We currently anticipate a Dogecoin award for the team with the best cryptocurrency hack. We are excited to see what the hackers come up with!
Caleb: It isn’t every day that Dogecoin and eBay are both the sponsor of an event, have you received any comments from nonDogecoiners about the Dogecoin sponsorship? What were they like?
Nishant: The comments are very positive. People on the verge of registering for the event have ended up registering after seeing the Dogecoin prize. Who could resist such a unique prize?