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HackRice competition moved to fall

By Maurice Frediere     9/6/16 11:21pm

The sixth annual HackRice will for the first time be held in the fall to help students’ career prospects. HackRice is a 36-hour hackathon where teams of no more than five compete to develop the best software-based project. The event has seen yearly growth, reaching 390 competitors in the spring 2016 competition.

Prudhvi Boyapalli, the committee chair of HackRice, explained the reasoning behind switching the event from spring to fall, articulating that it would allow students to interact with potential employers.

“We moved it to the fall to line up with recruiting season,” Boyapalli, a Duncan College junior, said. “Since HackRice is one way companies can interact with students, we wanted to make it more beneficial by having it at the same time as when they do most of their recruiting on campus.”

Facebook, IBM, Schlumberger, Two Sigma and PROS are among the companies expected to attend the event and network with competitors, Boyapalli said. Sponsoring the event entails providing workshops and mentoring, sponsoring awards and providing project assistance.

Duncan College sophomore Zachary Gramstad competed in HackRice last year where he worked on a crowdsourced food delivery project with four teammates. He plans on competing again this year despite the change but expressed reservations about the effect it could have on freshman participants.

“It is nice to have it earlier because then companies are still interested in discussing internship opportunities,” Gramstad said. “The biggest negative I see is that it could be somewhat alienating for freshmen to have the hackathon so early. I couldn’t have done anything worthwhile if HackRice had been in the fall last year, and so I probably wouldn’t have attempted to participate.”

Boyapalli said he does not expect the timing change to negatively impact attendance.

“This year we’re expecting 400-500 [competitors],” Boyapalli said. “We [typically] have a lot more people who apply than we can accept so we’re not concerned with a low attendance.”

Applications are taken from around the country but all Rice students are guaranteed entry to the competition. HackRice reimburses travel expenses for visiting hackers to allow the best competitors to travel to Rice for the event.

HackRice will also move from the Rice Memorial Center to the Jones Business School this year because of scheduling issues at the RMC. The Jones Business School will let HackRice accommodate more competitors than the RMC did. HackRice will take place from Oct. 14-16.

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