On their website, Purdue Hackers define themselves as “a ragtag group of students who want to change the culture at Purdue.”
This August, Purdue Hackers burst onto the scene with the intent to expose and cultivate a hacking culture at Purdue.
“We don’t mean hacking in the computer security sense. We mean hacking in terms of clever and playful things that you do generally related to computers just because they’re fun and just because you enjoy them,” said Luke Walsh, a junior in computer engineering and the club’s president.
Walsh, along with two friends and fellow computer engineering juniors – vice president Jack Hammons and treasurer Grant Gumina – held a callout at which they only expected five or six people. Fifty people attended.
“We held it in one of the second story study rooms in Electrical Engineering. The only way we were able to do it is because I was friends with a janitor and she wasn’t going to kick us out ... so it was really funny,” said Gumina.
The large amount of interest in building a hacking community has spring-boarded the club’s success. Purdue Hackers recently participated in MHacks, the largest hackathon in the world, at the University of Michigan from Sept. 20-22.
MHacks was a 36-hour build competition were 1,275 students were given free reign in their builds to demonstrate their talents and innovations. The nature of hackathons allows for interaction between the “best of the best,” making them the future of recruiting in the tech scene.
Purdue Hackers had the largest student presence at MHacks, with a total of 75 participants. Three groups from Purdue Hackers won prizes for their builds.
“By the end of the week, everyone knew Purdue Hackers,” said Gumina.
Purdue Hackers will be heavily involved Purdue’s own hackathon later this year, BoilerMake, which is expecting 400 to 500 students.
Purdue Hackers takes on a innovative open door policy. There are no club dues and no official members apart from the officers. The idea is to create an informal and fun learning environment, called “Hack Nights,” where students and professors alike can meet, share ideas, learn from one another and work on projects.
Hack Nights are hosted approximately twice a month. The next Hack Night will be held Thursday, where participants from MHacks will recap their experiences before the meeting dissolves into normal activities. To stay up-to-date with Purdue Hackers meetings and events, check out www.purduehackers.com.