Excitement Builds for UPE ShellHacks, Florida’s Largest Hackathon


For several months, Upsilon Pi Epsilon (UPE), the largest student organization for technology at Florida International University (FIU), has been thoroughly preparing for ShellHacks 2021. ShellHacks is recognized as Florida’s largest hackathon, which is evident in how last year’s event gathered impressive numbers with about 1,300 online hackers and over 200 project submissions!

Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s main priority is the safety of all in attendance. Thus, the organization’s fifth ShellHacks will be hosted on September 24th to 26th as an online event. This decision to go fully virtual helps ensure that every participant will still be able to enjoy the full hackathon experience and receive maximum interaction in the safety of their home; despite the virtual environment, UPE aims to host various activities and provide full support to all attending hackers!

Now, what exactly makes this particular hackathon so special and popular? Well, unlike most other hackathons, which focus solely on creating and pitching a project,  ShellHacks does that and so much more! Nicholas de Souza, Co-Director of ShellHacks, describes the event as “a diversity focused hackathon that brings in over 1000+ students to experience a weekend that entails workshops that teach cutting edge technologies [as well as] opportunities to speak to sponsors for internships or full-time positions…”.

While the workshops remain a surprise for the participants, the list of confirmed sponsors continues to grow and be promoted. It currently includes big names, such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce, and the list goes on! ShellHacks 2021 will also be welcoming local startups, for Miami is increasingly gaining attention as a new tech hub. Nicholas Gonzalez, President of UPE, believes this momentum will advance and that “UPE and ShellHacks can continuously strengthen FIU’s platform as a school of engineering and technology while raising the platform of the MiamiTech scene with FIU and its students at the forefront”. It is through the generosity of these sponsors that ShellHacks is able to provide its hackers with prizes, giveaways, swag, and, most importantly, opportunities!

When asked about the support of the sponsors, Tatendaishe Mahaka, a student participant of ShellHacks 2020, speaks about a kind of empowerment. She expresses, “You never would have thought that you’d have literally direct access to a recruiter, especially at a hackathon. But with that intimidation comes empowerment because it gives us the opportunity to actually go and speak to these recruiters.” In fact, it is with great pride that UPE shares how ShellHacks has given hundreds of students the chance to receive internship and job offers over the years. Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and other top companies have recruited these students for software engineering roles in areas like Seattle and New York.

ShellHacks is truly the culmination of UPE’s love for technology and dedication to empower fellow classmates and friends to achieve more. To shed some light, the hackathon has witnessed a streak of constant growth – it originally started with 300 students in 2017, then 700 students in 2018, 1,000 in 2019, and 1,300 in 2020. For this year, ShellHacks expects to match the 1,300 mark and impact more students! This growth is a testament to the efforts and success UPE has had in growing their local tech community year after year and ultimately expanding the overall diverse talent pipelines for jobs all over the U.S. 

Antonella Avogadro, another ShellHacks 2020 attendee, encourages all interested individuals to build/exercise their skills by participating in a hackathon. Being a computer science student, she reveals how ShellHacks is the perfect gateway to connect with the students in her field, especially during these remote times. “We don’t really get to interact with other students in class, so it’s a great time to come together with other people that have my same interests and to learn a lot of new things that I’m not usually exposed to”, Antonella explains.

UPE happily opens its arms to all who are intrigued by the words of Nicholas, Tatendaishe, and/or Antonella. Applications are now open for attendees, mentors, and volunteers, so head over to shellhacks.net and register now! Join over 1,000 students from around the world to learn the latest technologies, build innovative projects and win over $20,000 in prizes, and network with top companies for jobs and internships!

Written by: Liana Louise Adaza

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