Gannon hosts second annual Hackathon event

Billboards are up all over town announcing Gannon University’s second annual Hackathon Cybersecurity Competition, which is scheduled for the next two Saturdays.
The event originally was launched as a marketing and recruiting tool for the new I-HACK programs and to raise awareness of what Gannon has to offer, and it is continuing to do just that with this year’s event.
Fong Mak, Ph.D., cyber engineering and cybersecurity program director, said not only is the Hackathon a marketing effort, but it’s a chance to show that Gannon has this department and to show people what the I-HACK Center does.
The goal is to help Gannon become the region leader in the cyber engineering and cybersecurity programs. The Hackathon is only part of that, but it’s a big part, Mak said.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Not only is he the program director, but he is creating a website for the event that will give the competing high school students a chance to get a taste for hacking. There will be a weakness on the website for the young hackers to break through.
The event is made up of two virtual sessions where students work through five to six challenges. To compete, the high school students will just need to register online and sign in with their username and account. On the day of their session, students will work through the challenges, using any resource at their disposal, so long as they get through the challenges.
For the winner, the competition doesn’t end there.
“The winner will be invited to the onsite hackathon held in the spring semester,” Mak said.
The spring event will be set at a higher, more advanced level, Mak said. Here, the students will be competing for a scholarship to Gannon.
This year’s event is modeled after last year’s, with the only changes being made to improve the interface, making it more user friendly. It is also on target to have similar participants to last year’s, if not more. Last year, there were over 110 participants.
Registration is still available for this year’s Hackathon events; as of Tuesday, there were approximately 80 students registered. They’re still coming in, though. A better estimate is expected after Thursday.

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