The stereotype of a hacker is some dodgy looking, long haired, uncouth youth who creates and cracks codes in order to exploit a company or organisation. Nothing could in fact be further from the truth says Caroline De Cock, organiser of the EUhackathon, who is actively working to change the perception of a “hacker” into a positive term for “anyone who can creatively use code.”

Caroline’s brainchild, the EUhackathon, is now in its second edition and this year will be held to coincide with the Digital General Assembly – 20 June 2012 – in Brussels. Although there was only meant to be one EUhackathon, Caroline succeeded in bringing European Institutions together with corporate sponsors Facebook, Google, Vodafone and Orange in Brussels – and the idea for a second ‘hackathon’ became a reality. After resounding support from participants of the 2011 EUhackathon, many hackers have asked to apply again: “I’ve got alumni!” exclaims Caroline.

The applicants are both EU citizens and non-Europeans, and Caroline says that she would love to expand the network to include hackers from all over the globe, bringing the heart of hackers to Europe. Right now, though, she must start out small: “It comes down to budget and finding the right space to host the young hackers. We hope that as this is the second year and people begin to see all the exciting options there are for career opportunities that sponsors will come forward and take this idea to the next level. This is how we build a generation of digital talent.”

Forty hackers will be brought to Brussels in June this year, matching the size of the last EUhackathon which took place in November 2011. “Any more than that, and it’s a bit like a coder can of sardines,” says Caroline. “With the coders as well as the forty or so engineers and sponsors, the room will be packed,” she says.

It’s important to keep the event attendees rather small; the thirty one hour competition will require plenty of room for creativity. But Caroline’s not worried; “I’m sure that each of these teams will undoubtedly display an immense amount of talent and energy and endurance and tenacity,” she says. “Just what you need as a young person trying break into the workforce,” she continues.

The theme of this year’s EUhackathon – Hack4Kids – revolves around children and how young people can creatively and safely develop personal skills through online and offline endeavours. An added challenge will be tweens (13+ age group) participating in the jury that plays an important role in evaluating the teams and their end products in collaboration with a group of engineers from the sponsoring companies.

Caroline hopes that the EUhackathon will: “enable youngsters to understand the Brussels machine.” By meeting members of the European Parliament, engineers and policy makers, young European citizens will have the opportunity to improve their understanding and observe the transparency of EU Institutions whilst deploying their creativity.

Click here to see the official 2011 EUhackathon video!


This blog post was published by Colleen Wood, stagiaire, DIGITALEUROPE and the content supported by Natalia Kurop, Director of Communications-Marketing, DIGITALEUROPE

19 April 2012

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