2019 MTSU HackMT crowd
A portion of the crowd takes in the student-driven projetcs at the 2019 MTSU Computer Science HackMT hackathon in the Science Building last February. This year’s event will be held Jan. 24-26 in the Science Building. (MTSU file photo by Kimi Conro)

Middle Tennessee State University President Sidney A. McPhee called them “really brilliant kids” after stopping by to check on the presentation of projects by student teams near the conclusion of the 2019 MTSU Computer Science HackMT hackathon.

The more than 250 tech-savvy college students from across the South are about to return for the fifth annual HackMT. It will be held from 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, until noon on Sunday, Jan. 26, in the Science Building.

HackMT’s objective is to bring software developers and visual designers together with computer science students from regional universities. They form teams to invent new web platforms, mobile apps and electronic gadgets for more than 36 intense, uninterrupted hours.

Registration will end Friday, Jan. 17. To register and view this year’s schedule of events, visit Eventbrite online at https://tinyurl.com/qnd87wy.

The public and MTSU community are invited to attend the presentation of projects at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Awards will follow. To find parking and venue, go to https://www.mtsu.edu/parking/2019ParkingMap.pdf.

“We have a very exciting event planned,” said Josh Phillips, assistant professor in computer science. “We’re probably going to have over 250 attendees this year, our largest number of participants on record.”

Phillips said he and other organizers are thrilled “to have 11 companies already signed up with us to sponsor the programs so that we can have all of our students come and reside in our Science Building over this 36-hour event, and build all kinds of technologies, whether they’re web-based, apps or databases.”

Asurion and L3 Harris will be the primary sponsors. Both companies provided $10,000 for the event.

It’s Phillips’ belief that students need a break from their academic routine and utilize a team-bonding experience while networking with potential employers.

“Sometimes with hardware — Raspberry Pi’s, robotics and all those kinds of things — the students just get their heads into tech for a little while, learn some new tools and technologies outside the classroom, collaborate with one another and work with our industry partners so they can get a sense about what things look like out there in the field. It’s a good experience for all the students.

A number of industry officials are registered as well, Phillips said.

CAT Financial, Eventbrite and Bondware Inc. are among the other sponsors.

Computer science is one of 11 College of Basic and Applied Sciences departments. Medha Sarkar is the chair of the department.

MTSU has more than 300 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.