Hello Hackers! My name is Rob Kleiman, and I’m beyond thrilled to be joining the team here at Major League Hacking to support your hackathons starting in the Spring. A big part of what drew me to MLH and serving the Hacker community is the fact that technology is changing faster and faster each day. As we see continual improvements in availability and access to technology, we’re only limited by how far the imagination can go. Technology is just a tool to get there. With this in mind, it’s a personal goal of mine to help make your hackathons as awesome and successful as humanly possible.

As a constant learner, I know there’s no way to fake technical experience. The tech field requires doing your homework and getting real hands-on experience to actually know what you’re talking about. Learning and experimentation is part of the DNA of what it means to be a hacker. I respect this ethos, and it’s why I am committed to serving technologists around the globe.

During each step of my career, technology played a big part in my both my learnings and successes. For as long as I can remember, I’ve tinkered with technology. When I was a kid, I would spend hours noodling on software, replacing a computer hard drive with my dad, customizing a Myspace page like a champ, or even putting a dancing ninja turtle GIF on my old-school Nokia phone. I was driven to learn how these systems worked and enjoyed “hacking” them to match my preferences. That hobby turned into a habit of learning about different subjects with relative speed and ease. But it also made me realize this: everything in life is almost always more complicated than it appears.

I believe coding is like the new word processing (it’s as important as being able to type) and it’s crucial to know how things get built. This realization led me down a road of learning basic Ruby on Rails, Heroku, and Amazon Web services and served as a crash course in the complexities and unique problem-solving skills required in the life of a coder.

I spent months learning basic syntax, deployment methods, and git — this is the bread and butter of software development. But, like anything new — it wasn’t easy. I distinctly remember troubleshooting a line of JavaScript, which was holding up a launch date, and upon resolving the issue, dancing around the room with excitement. I sincerely hope you get to experience this kind of joy at your next hackathon! This invaluable experience in multiple domains pushed me to learn about tons of topics simultaneously, many of which apply directly to my new role with MLH.

I get a weird satisfaction from troubleshooting technical problems. The rush comes from learning on the fly and figuring out how different pieces of a larger system fit together. Maybe you get that rush too — at the end of the day, we’re all looking to learn, build and share. Hackathons focus on project-based learning. You don’t know everything; you just have to get started. When it comes to the work of you organizers, you have to think about a lot of things and it’s important to stay organized.

It’s my belief is that everything that goes into creating a great experience revolves around the people. Everyone has a story and deserves an opportunity to build things with the potential to change the status quo. People are the reason that ideas move forward. There’s nothing quite like seeing a group of people work together to create something amazing — — especially when you played a part of putting that into motion.

As a member of the Major League Hacking team, I get to attend our hackathons and see what they’re all about. My first MLH hackathon was YHack at Yale University; this was a treat because I got to see our community members learn as they go — they read the documentation, they keep going and troubleshoot issues as they go. At YHack, the students blew me away incorporating different technologies in their hacks — from AWS to blockchain to virtual reality, the variety, complexity, and usefulness of projects built in under three days is astounding. That’s the spirit of a hacker.

As I watched students build an Alexa app that could do their statistics homework for them. I witnessed students build a Pokemon style game that brought attention to why animal poaching is bad. It became clear that hackathons demonstrate a groundbreaking way to learn, build and share in record time. You can work on things that align with your passions and the causes you care about — or you can do something silly or entertaining. It was memorable because the students were so eager to build great things. This boundless creative spirit is why I am so delighted to be working at MLH. Here I get to help you solve your problems — whether it’s helping you tackle a budgeting issue, talking through your organization’s team dynamics or helping figure out how to deploy your hackathon’s wifi network. I also know how important it is to act like a leader, how to talk to people, how to listen — skills that are required to succeed as an organizer.

As a member of the league team — I’m a resource for you to bounce ideas off of. We want your event to be as successful as possible. As you walk down the path of organizing your event, I look forward to being able to support and create opportunities for you and the MLH community.

If you’re asking yourself “what makes Rob qualified to help me plan my hackathon?”

Besides the fact that I thrive in environments where I can collaborate, be social and work hard, the answer is two-fold:

1) I work hard to get to know you. I take the time learn what’s necessary to help you figure out / troubleshoot the hard stuff.

2)With experience in multiple areas, I can help you think about content, community building, and event planning and other puzzle pieces of putting on a hackathon.

Through this varied experience, I learned that the feeling of belonging and creating an authentic community never goes out of style. So I jumped headfirst into my local tech community, making it my mission to meet people across sectors and in the developer scene. I wanted to understand their ambitions, work, passions, and challenges. I haven’t looked back since. Now, as a new Deputy Commissioner, I am hoping to learn from you. I am ready to work with you on the many exciting aspects of planning and executing your events. I am here to work with you, so you feel connected to our community and empowered to succeed.

So, promise me something: If you have a challenge — or a breakthrough, I want to hear about it. I want to hear your feedback, I want to know your troubles, I want to celebrate your wins. That’s how we iterate and provide the best service to you and the whole MLH league!

Now let’s have a great season! I can’t wait to meet you!

Happy hacking,