How do you engage your school hacker community?

Hackathons are great for engaging your local community, but it’s only a per semester or even per year basis. I’ve spoke to a lot of organizers who mentioned that they don’t do much outside of their yearly hackathon in terms of hacker events.

For Rutgers University, we have a club called USACS that’s the largest CS club on campus. They host a workshop every Friday evening that’s student/alumni led on topics not taught in school (e.g. Databases, APIs, Python, etc.). They also do social activities focused on bonding with other folks in CS over ice cream and games!

To everyone: How do you all actively engage your hacker community when your hackathon isn’t happening?

cracks knuckles I have so many things to say on this. Right now I’m starting a club at Penn State called inSpace (inclusive, interdisciplinary, innovation space) to get people of all walks of life to learn about technology and go to hackathons. BUT I’ve already tried some things out this year and this is what I’ve found helpful.

  • Mentorship - Sometimes quality is more important than just reach. I’ve found some really promising leaders in the community that I give a lot of support, resources, advice, connections, and memes. I taught one friend that’s an accounting major HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Learning to code gave her a lot of confidence and now she’s the treasurer of inSpace! She makes me so proud.

  • Workshops - this is a given. Localhost is your FRIEND, please take advantage of it and do so regularly. Consistency is great for community building!

  • Facebook - Make a Facebook group for your tech community! Right now mine is a little over 100 members. I’m still struggling to build it, so if anyone has tips please send them my way.

  • Make a lot of noise - Obnoxiously post on my social media about tech, write blog posts, talk all the faculty’s ear off, shout out events on campus during class. Don’t be afraid to be loud!

  • Band together - Combine networks with other community leaders, especially if you’re at a big school.

  • Tech jams - as it turns out, if you offer people food they WILL code in your apartment on a Saturday, and it’s really really fun. It’s a super laid back way to build the hacker ethos in your community, especially for beginners that are nervous about going to their first event.

There’s so much more to say on this but I have to write an essay. TL;DR be consistent, loud, and friendly.