By: Abeera Shahid

What if you had 36 hours to build a solution to any problem of your choice?

Almost 100 McMaster students travelled to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, from Nov. 11-13 for YHack. Hackathons are 36-hour technology marathons where students are challenged to build software and hardware solutions. Problems addressed span various disciplines, ranging from financial management for students to supporting firefighters in emergencies.

Hacking is a creative endeavour and provides students with an opportunity to apply their skill set to a larger problem. Yale Hacks is especially popular with McMaster students because PhaseOne, formerly HackitMac, supports the organization of the trip every year. The trip brings together students across disciplines in a weeklong trip abroad.

This year, McMaster students focused their energy on finance hacks.

“[One group] did an app that infused seven different finance companies and their entire application, their hack, was to create an automated trading bot. The trading bot was to completely optimize all of the stock trades a person would want to commit to and it would be verified by FINRA and go through your wallet as well,” explained Tai Rui Tong, PhaseOne’s president.

Hackathons are also competitive where top teams can win cash prizes, and there are various sponsors offering additional incentives. McMaster students took 3rd place home and several sponsor prizes.

Students are active in hackathons around North America, and McMaster has a growing community of students invested in technology. PhaseOne is the largest student-run tech community on campus, and they want to get everyone involved regardless of their current experience or faculty.

“Having someone out of the engineering faculty with a whole new worldview is crucial for anything to be successful. Making hacks that are impactful to society or any sort of situation, you require visions of people who see things from a totally different perspective,” said Tong.

To achieve widespread engagement, PhaseOne hosts code nights on Thursday evenings, operates a Facebook group where people can ask their technology-related questions and organizes McMaster’s very own hackathon: Deltahacks. Deltahacks is held once a year, and is scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 28 this school year.

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