The PickHacks Team

Organizer
The PickHacks Team
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Christopher Gu (left) and Luis Ocampo (right) are the co-founders of PickHacks, the official hackathon of the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Chris and Luis attended the same high school but didn’t become friends until attending the same college. The two attended GlobalHacks at the same time and said their passing hellos then proceeded on with their teams, Chris with his friends from college and Luis with his friends from high school (Luis is a year younger than Chris). 

The two continued running into each other at events and were both at SHAMHacks, a day of Localhost workshops and hacking. Luis was volunteering and helping with registration while Chris was competing with his friends. That weekend, there was a massive snowstorm, and the organizer got snowed into his apartment, so Luis found himself running point and working to help participants. Once the organizer was able to get to the event, he was impressed with the work Luis had done and asked if he would be interested in taking over the organization the following year as he was unable to. It was at this point that Luis turned to Chris, someone he knew who had previously expressed interest. 

Having been exposed to several other MLH hackathons, they researched the community and the different event types. They set the goal of becoming an MLH Member Event and immediately dove into the community for support. It was at this time that MLH launched Peer Groups for organizers. Chris and Luis attended a virtual peer group for beginner organizers and found it very helpful and it put them at ease. From there, they went on to attend over 20 more Peer Groups throughout the summer. 

That summer, Luis attended Hackcon VI to meet and learn from seasoned organizers.  He was pleasantly surprised to see people he recognized from Peer Groups. Coming out of the weekend, he felt more prepared and had an even more extensive network of organizers he could lean on. 

Taking all of the information they learned from Peer Groups and Hackcon, they were able to up attendance from 30 to 300 attendees coming from ~30 universities and four high schools from across the nation. Despite also having a snowstorm that weekend, nearly half of their attendees were first-time hackers who still showed up, and 80% had attended three or fewer hackathons.

The two took extra care to make sure that the event was welcoming and a learning experience for all. Their workshops helped beginner hackers to get their footing and in an effort to make sure that everyone felt they could participate in the weekend’s festivities. 

Having succeeded in taking over and rebranding PickHacks, the duo was featured at Hackcon VII for their work. Chris gave a talk at the event on sponsorship as they had signed on 30 companies for their event in only 10 months.

For Chris and Luis, the driving reason they founded PickHacks was that they wanted to cultivate a hacker community in the Midwest. On the East and West Coast, hackathons happen very regularly and transportation is a lot easier. As most of the students at their university came for various socio-economic reasons, they knew that their hackers had a harder time finding access to the resources they needed. Luis and Chris see PickHacks not just as an event, but as a movement that helps to drive talent in the Midwest. They want students to feel comfortable in the tech community and reduce the feeling of imposter syndrome. 

In April, they will be hosting their second PickHacks. Going into their second year, they are looking to double their numbers from last year with around 500 students and are looking to provide a top tier experience. Chris and Luis have spent time diligently learning what makes events successful in order to culminate the best experience possible.

The PickHacks 2019 Recap Video

The PickHacks Team

Organizer
The PickHacks Team
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Christopher Gu (left) and Luis Ocampo (right) are the co-founders of PickHacks, the official hackathon of the Missouri University of Science and Technology. Chris and Luis attended the same high school but didn’t become friends until attending the same college. The two attended GlobalHacks at the same time and said their passing hellos then proceeded on with their teams, Chris with his friends from college and Luis with his friends from high school (Luis is a year younger than Chris). 

The two continued running into each other at events and were both at SHAMHacks, a day of Localhost workshops and hacking. Luis was volunteering and helping with registration while Chris was competing with his friends. That weekend, there was a massive snowstorm, and the organizer got snowed into his apartment, so Luis found himself running point and working to help participants. Once the organizer was able to get to the event, he was impressed with the work Luis had done and asked if he would be interested in taking over the organization the following year as he was unable to. It was at this point that Luis turned to Chris, someone he knew who had previously expressed interest. 

Having been exposed to several other MLH hackathons, they researched the community and the different event types. They set the goal of becoming an MLH Member Event and immediately dove into the community for support. It was at this time that MLH launched Peer Groups for organizers. Chris and Luis attended a virtual peer group for beginner organizers and found it very helpful and it put them at ease. From there, they went on to attend over 20 more Peer Groups throughout the summer. 

That summer, Luis attended Hackcon VI to meet and learn from seasoned organizers.  He was pleasantly surprised to see people he recognized from Peer Groups. Coming out of the weekend, he felt more prepared and had an even more extensive network of organizers he could lean on. 

Taking all of the information they learned from Peer Groups and Hackcon, they were able to up attendance from 30 to 300 attendees coming from ~30 universities and four high schools from across the nation. Despite also having a snowstorm that weekend, nearly half of their attendees were first-time hackers who still showed up, and 80% had attended three or fewer hackathons.

The two took extra care to make sure that the event was welcoming and a learning experience for all. Their workshops helped beginner hackers to get their footing and in an effort to make sure that everyone felt they could participate in the weekend’s festivities. 

Having succeeded in taking over and rebranding PickHacks, the duo was featured at Hackcon VII for their work. Chris gave a talk at the event on sponsorship as they had signed on 30 companies for their event in only 10 months.

For Chris and Luis, the driving reason they founded PickHacks was that they wanted to cultivate a hacker community in the Midwest. On the East and West Coast, hackathons happen very regularly and transportation is a lot easier. As most of the students at their university came for various socio-economic reasons, they knew that their hackers had a harder time finding access to the resources they needed. Luis and Chris see PickHacks not just as an event, but as a movement that helps to drive talent in the Midwest. They want students to feel comfortable in the tech community and reduce the feeling of imposter syndrome. 

In April, they will be hosting their second PickHacks. Going into their second year, they are looking to double their numbers from last year with around 500 students and are looking to provide a top tier experience. Chris and Luis have spent time diligently learning what makes events successful in order to culminate the best experience possible.

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The PickHacks 2019 Recap Video

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