BC to hold its first ever Hackathon event

Morgan Park, Editor-in-Chief

This semester, Bakersfield College will be holding its first ever hackathon, a team competition geared toward solving problems with technology. The hackathon’s theme will be public health.

“The idea is to create an innovation competition,” said BC public health professor Sarah Baron. Baron is organizing the event alongside the school’s computer science club and Kern Innovation & Technology Community, and the event’s primary sponsor, the Student Government Association.

Happening March 17-19, each team will have to start and complete their projects over the three days—including planning, developing, research, testing, and final presentations. Teams will be presented with a list of possible ideas submitted by the public health community, but they are free to brainstorm their own projects.

“These project teams are going to get together and hear different ideas of what they can work on and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to work on creating a game increasing knowledge around syphilis and what the symptoms are,’” said Baron.

“The coder will then start creating that shell of whatever that software is and the other team members will start attending workshops and getting information to bring back. They set their own project deadlines, but they have deliverables by key times to meet.”

Other examples suggested by the community include an app to take a picture of an environmental health violation, an app that enables users to message nurses with their health questions, and an app to keep track of your medication schedule.

On the final day, teams present their final projects to the judges, and then awards are handed out.

“I see it as a great opportunity to raise awareness on what public health is. People really don’t understand how the public health model works. The public health model really looks at your whole community wellness and how environmental health, food safety, vaccination and preventing diseases can impact an individual,” Baron said.

Baron also cited Kern County’s recent spike in syphilis cases as a reason to get involved now more than ever.

“We’ve got a syphilis outbreak that’s out of control right now. We’re making national news with our rates here. So taking care of our community and raising our awareness on what public health is and how we really need to care is one part of this hackathon event. Everyone should be involved in public health.”

Registration for the event is free and teams will be forming on the first day. As of March 8 over 75 people have registered, and Baron said the max will be around 100.

“I’m hoping that the students and participants coming into this really have their game faces on. I want people to get not so much competitive, but to get innovative. And bring on your best effort,” she said.