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UMD Students Win Major League Hacking Championship

October 25, 2013
Contacts: 

Lee Tune 301-405-4679

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – University of Maryland students have won the inaugural U.S. Major League Hacking (MLH) Championship. Newcomer UMD beat out Rutgers, long-time hackathon heavyweights MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Michigan and Stanford, and more than 100 other schools.

Photo courtesy of Major League HackingDuring the first half of the fall semester, more than 200 different Terrapin Hackers competed in at least one of five MLH designated hackathons—24 to 96 hour events in which students create or 'hack' a software or hardware project from scratch. This is hacking in its best and most original sense of creating playful, innovative programs or technologies, rather than its alternate meaning of computer crime. 

In a blog, MLH Commissioner Swift said, "I'm proud to announce that the Terrapin Hackers have officially claimed the title of Fall 2013 Hackathon Season champions and a spot on the list of best schools for hackers."

UMD took the championship by tying with Rutgers for tops in merit points and surpassing all schools in participation/presentation points. UMD overcame the substantial "home field" advantages of MLH hackathon hosts Rutgers, MIT, Michigan, NYU and University of Pennsylvania. MLH hackathons are organized and run by students, with financial backing by tech companies who more and more are using such competitions as prime recruiting grounds. 

"We placed first at two of the five hackathons," said Terrapin Hackers organizer Shariq Hashme, a UMD junior majoring in computer science and electrical and computer engineering.  "That's really, really good. It can't be a fluke. We are on to something."

Terrapin HackersAlthough UMD's computer science and electrical and computer engineering departments have long been among the nation's top programs for years, UMD students are largely new to hackathon participation.

"We came out of nowhere," said Hashme. "University of Maryland students generally didn't go to hackathons until last spring. These other teams had been going for years."

Although most Terrapin Hackers are computer science and/or electrical and computer engineering students, students from a number of other disciplines, including physics and biology also participated.

Collaboration First, Competition Second
According to students who organize hackathons, non-participants are often surprised by how much collaboration takes place among teams from different schools. "It's generally a very collaborative atmosphere," said Hashme. "It's not competitive, even though you want to win, of course. Every now and then a team comes along that is really, really competitive. They generally don't do very well. They don't realize that you really need other people's help if you want to win anything."

The Terrapin Hackers are led by Hashme, together with senior computer science majors Ivan Melyakov and Diego Quispe and  sophomore computer science major Kunal Sharma. Together, the four students organized transportation and helped with hackathon registration for their UMD group members. The Terrapin Hackers took busses, cars and even planes in order to participate in the five MLH hackathons.

The Major League Hacker standings are available at http://mlh.io/standings.

Rank

School

Attendance Points

Merit
Points

Total
Points

1

University of Maryland

320

666.66

986.66

2

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

217

661.66

878.66

3

Carnegie Mellon University

128

625

753

4

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

56

442.5

498.5

5

Columbia University

92

300

392

6

University of Michigan

99

200

299

7

Stanford University

20

200

220

8

The College of New Jersey

38

165

203

9

University of Rochester

4

152.5

156.5

10

Virginia Tech

54

100

154

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