The Smoke Signal

Coding Is The Future, You Just Don’t Know It Yet

RHS Students Participate in the Central Valley Hackathon

Will Sanford, Sport's Editor

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Believe it or not, but the main goal of the hackathon isn’t to hack. It’s to bring jobs into the Central Valley and improve our local economy. The inspiration is simple, keep people in the Central Valley instead of having them commute to places like Silicon Valley for work, bring the work here. Valley Worx is Modesto’s tech and digital design co-working space, their goal is to help new and old businesses grow faster and smarter. This is where the 4th annual Valley Hackathon took place, on January 26-27.

Ripon High Students pose for a picture with Philip Lan and Vice Mayor of Modesto, Tony Madrigal.

Competitors compete over a 48 hour time period to develop the best program at the competition. The competitors range from freelance untrained programmers to college graduates with degrees in computer science. One such freelance programer is Baron Rodrigues, who is working on an unnamed program that essentially teaches coding, “My program is a level based coding teacher. You start out with simpler programming languages like html and gradually move onto more complex languages like Java and C++.” The program is similar to Codecademy, another educational program for computer programming, but it is unique in the fact that it is always offered as a free service.”

The first Hackathon had just about 15 competitors involved, the number continues to grow each year with this year’s competition attracting about 100 people, more than quadruple the competitors of the original. All sorts of companies are attracted to the event so they can look at what the valley has to offer. Phillip Lan, a native of Ripon and developer at Valley Worx stated,  “Companies and startups in nearby states have to step over the Central Valley in order to get people to give jobs to. We want to show that the Central Valley can also be a place to give jobs in the tech industry.”

CEO and founder of Varsity Technologies, Patrick Ciccarelli, is a supporter of Computer Science jobs in the valley. His company works with nonprofit organizations and even schools to help them work better and smarter using new technologies, improving student and worker outcomes. Ciccarelli stated, “You innovate when you create great things. It happens when you sit down and work together.. When all different sorts of people get together in a space you open the door to all sorts of opportunities.”

Ripon High teacher Mr. Mayfield brought a group of students to the Hackathon on the first day to take a look at what it is all about. Lexi Hyer a junior at Ripon High was surprised by what it was all about, “I thought the competition was just for a prize and was all about coding. It was really interesting to find out that the Hackathon has the ability to give people in the Central Valley, jobs and salaries that you can get in places like the Bay Area.”

Bringing jobs to the valley has nothing but positives, it will present the ability for people to gain six-figure salaries without having to commute to places like San Francisco and other cities in the Bay Area. It will also improve the local economy and as a byproduct businesses in the area unrelated to the tech industry will also benefit by money being spent at their businesses. It’s a win-win situation for all. Phillip Lan added, “Silicon Valley and the Central Valley are so close yet so far apart. Everything we need exists here, just you don’t know it yet.”

 

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