Wesleyan has a great computer science department, but almost all of the classes focus on the theoretical aspects of CS. These concepts are definitely useful, but I always craved something more hands on, more practical. For me, the obvious answer was hackathons and projects, but I had to go outside of Wesleyan to find these opportunities. Going to Hack@Brown or YaleHack was fun, but every time I did a hackathon hosted by another school all I could think was, "why doesn't Wesleyan have one of these?"
I was planning to start a hackathon on my own junior year, but then I heard that Code_Wes, the new coding club on campus, was planning one. I eagerly joined in, excited to create a hackathon at Wes. It became clear very quick that I was the most experienced one there, as I was a year older and I had done 5 hackathons, while all the Code_Wes people were sophomores and most had done only 1 hackathon, if that. I quickly took on a leadership role as my experience proved to be very helpful. I suggested we move the hackathon from February to April to give us plenty of time to prepare, get sponsors, make a website, and overall create a hackathon that was as high quality and legit as that of other schools. I also set us up with weekly scheduled meetings, a week-by-week schedule that went backtimed from the hackathon date to the current moment, a website I built, color-coded task assignment by week, and every other organizational strategy I had learned while making The Great Invention Heist.
When organizing WesHack, I made sure to emphasize throughout that this was an event that should be open and inclusive to all, regardless of skill level. The lack of practical opportunities at Wes makes a lot of people nervous about their skill level, believing that they aren't talented enough or don't know enough for software engineering. Since practical projects that grant that experience require the confidence to seek them out at Wes, this is an ugly self-perpetuating cycle. I wanted to make sure all CS students at Wes knew that WesHack was a perfect fun and low-stakes opportunity for them to gain the practical experience and confidence that they wanted. We emphasized this idea in every single email we sent out, in multiple places on our website, in every blurb, in every Instagram post, to really hammer this idea home. I also made sure we hosted beginner workshops on topics such as Github/HTML/CSS and Python Flask/Google App Engine, which I hosted.
TBD, hopefully everything goes well ;)