Bowdoin will host the first ever Colby-Bates-Bowdoin (CBB) Hackathon, which will run today through Sunday. The event, put on by the Bowdoin’s Information Technology Advisory Council (ITAC), aims to bring student entrepreneurs together so they can develop their ideas. So far, 70 students from over 10 institutions across the east coast have signed up to participate, 40 of whom are Bowdoin students. 

“Hackathons are about getting these people together and hoping something cool comes of it,” said ITAC President Ruben Martinez ’15.

The event will take place in David Saul Smith Union, beginning at 9 p.m. tonight and lasting 36 hours. Students who wish to participate may either arrive with a team or be matched with a group of people at the event. They may also work independently to develop their ideas. 

Students will have 36 hours to design a product, help bring a product design to life or market a product. The product does not have to be technologically based, it must simply be an idea that is brought to life within the time limit. At the end of the Hackathon, seven winners across different categories will be selected by a panel of judges. Categories include “Hardware Hacks”—ideas that include the physical building of a product—and “Female Founders”—ideas created by women.

Other schools that will participate include Cornell University, Boston University, Williams College, Purdue University, University at Albany, the University of Maryland and the University of Maine Orono. 

The panel of judges will include Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Fellow in Digital and Computational Studies Mohammad Irfan, founder and former CEO of Liquid Wireless (a Maine-based marketing company) Jason Cianchette, and others from various technology companies and the College. 

Chief Information Officer Mitch Davis said the judges will be looking for “the one idea that they haven’t heard before that is really well put together.”

The grand prize is a set of tablets for each team member, as well as a scholarship to an online entrepreneurial course called “The Top Gun Prep Entrepreneurial Course.” Second place winners will each receive a $70 gift card to L.L. Bean, and third place winners will each receive a $20 gift card to L.L. Bean. 

Davis was among the group of students and faculty who brought the Hackathon to life this year. 

New Media and Data Vizualization Specialist Jen Jack Gieseking, also a member of that group, said she hopes the Hackathon will prompt wider campus discussion. 

 “I hope that students dive into this space and learn how to work across their ideas and skills to put together new, exciting apps, websites, maker tech and other sorts of projects,” she said.

“It’s exceptionally important for students to realize how important their place is in this conversation,” she added. 

Throughout the event, students will get guidance from other entrepreneurs, founders of startup companies and representatives from tech companies. In addition to providing guidance, various entrepreneurs will give speeches about their entrepreneurial journeys. 

Cianchette will be the keynote speaker, while Jill Schweitzer ’06 will be unveiling a product she recently developed.

First year Fiona Iyer, who plans to participate in the Hackathon, feels that the project was long overdue.

“We’re moving towards a world of entrepreneurs,” said Iyer. “Entrepreneurs can affect so much change so if we want to be change agents, then we have to learn how to become amazing entrepreneurs.”

This weekend, Iyer will be working to develop a product she will call “Badass Bread Boys,” because, according to Iyer, “the next big wave in social entrepreneurship is food.”

Iyer said she is also looking forward to connecting with fellow entrepreneurs and hopes that many people will participate in the event. 

“Hopefully this is the start to many more entrepreneurial initiatives,” she said.