Hennessy Sepulveda | Staff Writer
The best in tech from all over Florida came together to show off their skills at Shell Hacks.
Shell Hacks took place from Sep. 15 to 17 at the Kovens Conference Center on FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus.
INIT at FIU is a student organization that is a chapter of the national non-profit organization INIT that specializes in empowering underrepresented communities in launching careers in the tech industry.
Shell Hacks’ first weekend took place in 2017 with a turnout of about 200 guests, a far cry from the record-setting 1,500 guests from all over Florida in attendance for this year’s event.
“At the end of the day we created all of this for all of y’all to attend, participate, to network with employers, and to get a job opportunity,” said Andy Garcia, president of the INIT FIU chapter.
Shell Hacks allows computer science students to meet with event sponsors for potential internship opportunities, while also providing a variety of beginner-friendly workshops like web development, game development, design, career development, and more.
The event sponsors, made up of industry giants like Microsoft, Google, Capital One, and others were the stars of the event as students rushed to their booths to make instructions even before the opening ceremony began.
Sponsors sent key members of their respective tech departments to present and judge challenges where student hackers can team up or work solo to develop a website, app, and APIs from scratch to compete for prizes.
Hackers were encouraged to sleep over the weekend to be fully engulfed in their projects.
Some of the event sponsor members were FIU alumni themselves, including Microsoft software engineer Christopher Rodriguez who got to experience a full-circle moment as he spoke at the opening ceremony, being an original co-founder of INIT FIU’s Shell Hacks.
Rodriguez recounted his first Hackathon experience after taking a 14-hour bus ride to Georgia Tech for HackGT as his inspiration for putting Shell Hacks together.
“I was blown away by what happens and ever since that moment, I thought I had to do something just as cool,” said Rodriguez. “I am very proud that 7 iterations later we have an amazing team of people that have been carrying on this legacy.”
Ricardo Garcia, FIU Junior in Computer Science returned to Shell Hacks for the second time and shared his excitement before the event began.
“I’ve been anticipating this entire event because last year it was awesome and so far, it’s awesome!” said Garcia.