GeauxHack Logo

Geaux Geaux Gadget

The Silicon Bayou is ready to rumble.

This weekend, Louisiana State University (LSU) will host over 150 hackers that are set to hunker in and bust out all kinds of new, inventive hacks. The hackathon is called GeauxHack (pronounced “Go Hack”), and its name comes from the word “Geaux” which, as GeauxHack co-chair and organizer Howard Wang tells me, is the Louisiana way of spelling “Go.”

Here’s the schedule –

Registration                   : 9 am on Saturday, August 30th.

Hackathon Begins      : 12 pm on Saturday, August 30th.

Hackathon Ends          : 12 pm on Sunday, August 31st.

Final Ceremonies/      : 2 pm on Sunday, August 31st.

All the festivities will take place in Charles E. Coates Hall, a building on campus grounds.

GeauxHack will be the university’s first ever hackathon for local and regional student hackers. It is an event that may well be a big break for LSU’s hacker culture, which Wang tells me doesn’t really exist at the Baton Rouge campus. This lack of a culture can perhaps be traced to the predominantly academic and research-oriented focus of the university’s computer science department. “We have a lot of brilliant students who have done research,” Wang says. “but we wanted to create an opportunity for these students to create anything they want with their imaginations without the confined box of solving just a [class-assigned] problem.” Wang was inspired to organize his own hackathon after he attended HackMIT, which both reminded him of the allure of computer science as well as caused him to find that hackathons were few and far between across the South. Shortly after, Wang found a group of like-minded students back at LSU, and together they start pulling together GeauxHack. For Wang and co., GeauxHack is an effort to kick-start a hacker culture both at LSU and across the region more broadly.

The GeauxHack Organizing Team. L to R: Samantha Fadrigalan, Morgan Hargrove, Howard Wang, Jacob Cook. Not pictured: Ross Miller, Andrew Griffin.

The GeauxHack Organizing Team. L to R: Samantha Fadrigalan, Morgan Hargrove, Howard Wang, Jacob Cook. Not pictured: Ross Miller, Andrew Griffin.

GeauxHack is also an effort to build further professional in-roads into the tech industry. While Wang concedes that LSU’s computer science department has indeed started a shift away from pure research and towards industry, he still feels that the shift is far too slow. In his mind, GeauxHack will prove to be a great opportunity for students to catch some attention, to deepen their experience pool, and to “put what they learned to use.”

And useful they can well turn out to be! LSU is located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana’s idyllic capital, whose tech and entrepreneurship community has been experiencing a quiet but steady growth over the past few years. The university undoubtedly plays some substantial role in this growth, with its student business incubator and a physical infrastructure that allows for Startup Weekends, Tech Meetups, and potential conferences to be hosted in the future. Nearby New Orleans, the largest city in the state, also provides LSU students with a sizable tech-entrepreneurial environment. NOLA is, of course, considerably different compared to Silicon Valley and the New York tech scene – I’ve been told that it’s more niched, relaxed, and definitely more of the community. According to this pitch deck by Silicon Bayou News and New Orleans entrepreneur Chris Schultz, the city’s startup community largely grapples with education tech, biotech, and digital media. Indeed, New Orleans appears to boast a remarkably grassroots quality, and its personality is perhaps best articulated by Inc. Magazine when it called NOLA the “Coolest Start-Up City in America” back in 2011.

And cool it is. When asked what else he wanted everyone to know about GeauxHack, Wang replied: “We’re trying to incorporate Louisiana culture into the food [we’re providing]…When the hackers go back, we want them to remember not just the heat but Southern hospitality as well.”

Bayou Hackers — they have fantastic priorities.


One Response