Page 12 - Campus Technology, January/February 2020
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5) Recruit volunteers.
Almost all hackathons are run by volunteer staff, Gottfried said. “You want to get students, professors, administrators, maybe professionals in the local community to come help out. The tasks range from logistics (like moving boxes, handing out food, checking people in) all the way through to speaking at the event, maybe giving a technical workshop, maybe mentoring people on helping them debug their code at midnight. There’s a lot of different things and ways that people can contribute.”
You’ll also need judges for the end of the event. These can be people who students are already familiar with, such as professors and mentors, but bringing in an outsider can make students feel another level of recognition. “Maybe it’s someone who is a technology leader in your local community, maybe it’s the president of the college,” Gottfried said. Give students the opportunity to demo their project to someone they look up to.
Judges need to have a good understanding of what it takes to build technology, and what a hackathon is really about. “It’s not a business
plan competition. It’s not a startup competition. It’s a place for people to build cool prototypes,” he asserted. “We usually look at it from the perspective of creativity, technical complexity, maybe usefulness in the real world, that kind of thing.”
6) Find sponsors.
The most obvious purpose of a sponsor is to fund the event, Gottfried said. “When you’re buying that food and buying that swag, someone’s paying for it. University budgets sometimes contribute but generally are pretty strapped for cash — so you do bring in sponsors to help cover the cost.” Sponsors can provide cash or in-kind donations (such as free or discounted food). A good place to start is with local businesses: companies that have a relationship with the school, are based locally or have an office locally, that want to get involved and support something on campus, he recommended. Even better, a sponsor can be a company that is recruiting and hiring students from campus, for internships or full-time jobs in technology, so there is a financial relationship there.

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