Student Innovators to Converge at University of Maryland for Bitcamp

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University of Maryland students will host Bitcamp, the university's first Major League Hackathon, April 4−6, 2014 in Cole Field House on the university’s College Park, Md., campus. More than 750 college students from across the country are expected to attend the innovative technology summit at UMD.

hackathon is a weekend-long event where students work in teams to produce inventive hardware and applications for computers, mobile devices or the Web—some of which could serve as the basis for new companies. After 24 to 36 hours of ‘hacking,” teams showcase their ideas to a panel of judges and participants.

Bitcamp, which is being planned entirely by a team of undergraduate students, will focus on non-competitive student exploration, collaboration, and creative thinking, and will feature a large trade exposition of students’ software and hardware creations, or hacks.

"There is a growing movement of 'hackers' that are reclaiming the term to embody innovation, entrepreneurship, and the creation of new software and hardware," said Patrick O'Shea, UMD’s vice president and chief research officer. “We are proud to be at the forefront of this movement and host this showcase of innovation at the University of Maryland.”

UMD’s Terrapin Hackers team was named champion of the Fall 2013 Major League Hacking Season for their performance and attendance at five hackathons across the nation. Energized by the positive outcomes that come from hacking, such as the team’s first-place winning sorting trash can at the University of Michigan’s MHacks competition, Bitcamp organizers are shifting the hackathon environment for their April event.

"We are creating a new hackathon experience," said Bitcamp organizer Jeff Hilnbrand, a junior mechanical engineering student at UMD. "Our YOU+TECH theme abandons the traditional judging system in favor of encouraging students to create projects inspired by their own passions and interests, instead of inspired solely by competition.”

The hackathon experience is meant for all—and offers a chance for students to focus and grow in a compressed timeframe.

"The culture around hackathons encourages experiments, mistakes, and even failure—after all, failure is one of the best ways to learn how to do something better," saidUMD junior Brent Bovenzi, a double major in electrical and computer engineering and government and politics. "It is this culture that Bitcamp seeks to expand. Bitcamp is different from other university hackathons—instead of focusing on competition or prizes, Bitcamp values participant experience, collaboration and storytelling."

Bitcamp will feature live blogging and other multimedia components to document the event and give the community a glimpse into the true nature of hackathons.

"At the end of the event, hackers walk away with amazing experiences and new projects, or 'hacks,' that they built themselves,” said senior computer science major Joshua Berenhaus. “Bitcamp wants to spotlight as many as possible."

Brendan Iribe, CEO of Oculus VR, a company developing immersive virtual reality technology that's wearable and affordable, will open Bitcamp with a keynote speech.

Bitcamp sponsors include Laboratory for Telecommunication SciencesBooz Allen HamiltonAppianAT&TCipher Tech SolutionsClarabridgeDaocloudFiscalNoteMasheryMicrosoftMongoDBNamecheapOPISRdioSendGridSocial RadarSparkFun Electronics, and Tata.

Students can sign up to attend Bitcamp at http://bitca.mpAny student enrolled at a university may be eligible for travel reimbursement to attend the event.

Companies interested in sponsoring the event can visit or email for more information. 

Members of the media can register to attend at

Twitter: @bitcmp
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Listen to the NPR All Things Considered story about University of Maryland hackathon students

Published March 13, 2014