Founded in 2015, JHacks began as a way to get Jewish students more involved in computers and technology. A popular event among college students is a "Hackathon," an event (usually spanning 24 to 36 hours) where students form teams and work together to create products, both software and hardware, that they believe will have a positive impact on their community. Most Hackathons, including all the ones held on the University of Maryland campus, however, are held on Saturdays. In many religious communities, people refrain from the use of technology on Friday nights and Saturdays (the Sabbath), which left members of these communities unable to participate in these Hackathons. Sponsored in part by the University of Maryland Hillel, the Jewish center on campus, JHacks strove to create a Hackathon for students of all denominations. JHacks provides an opportunity for students with a passion for technology to engage and meet other students who come from a similar background and share similar interests.
JHacks first began hacking in the spring of 2016. In our first year, we had more than 115 students in attendance from more than 20 universities all across the country. JHacks begins Friday afternoon with check in and a general meet and greet where students can take the chance to meet people from other schools. Friday night, optional Jewish services are held followed by a communal dinner. Events on Saturday begin with optional Jewish services in the morning, followed by a communal lunch. Saturday afternoon is filled with talks from various speakers, Q&As; with panels, and lots of fun conversations.
The Hackathon itself begins Saturday night; teams get together, decide what they'd like to work on, and begin hacking. Corporate sponsors have the opportunity to present a specific challenge for teams to work on if they so choose. The Hackathon continues until 4 PM on Sunday, when projects are presented to a panel of judges. An hour later, winners are decided and given the chance to show off their hard work, concluding a fun and exciting weekend of creativity and innovation.
This year, JHacks hopes to host close to 500 students, but we can't do it without your help!
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