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Jeff Branson of SparkFun to Mentor and Judge, More Than $1,000 in Prizes

TROY, N.Y. (Dec. 10, 2015) — The Tech Valley Center Of Gravity (TVCOG) is inviting “hackers” from near and far to a two-day “hackathon” hardware challenge in its newly opened downtown space this winter.

The “Internet of Things Hackathon, hosted by the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and Powered by AT&T,” will take place from Saturday Jan. 30 to Sunday Jan. 31.

“Hacking has a PR problem because of a few hackers who write malicious code to spread viruses or steal data,” said Erica Rinehart Iannotti TVCOG chair. “The act of hacking is really about making something do something that it wasn’t designed for in order to solve a problem.”

A hackathon is an event, usually lasting more than a day, where groups of computer programmers and other tech-oriented people collaborate intensely on projects using software. Hackers typically stay in the space the entire time working constantly.

“Hackathons are around-the-clock intense,” Iannotti said. “They sleep here. No showers. You’re living on Red Bull, Cheetos and adrenalin. At the end of the weekend we celebrate what they’ve produced.”

There will be a top prize of at least $1,000, as well as other giveaways including a free TVCOG membership. But Iannotti says most hackers will come for the camaraderie, the excitement of competition, the good food (in addition to Cheetos) , the bragging rights and, most of all, the opportunity to mess with hardware they cant afford to own themselves.

“Most hackathons focus on software, this one will combine software, hardware and the Internet,” Iannotti said. “Teams of hackers will spend the weekend at TVCOG making software to connect physical objects to the Internet in new and interesting ways.”

Jeff Branson, educational outreach coordinator for SparkFun Electronics, will be attending the hackathon to mentor the participants and judge their creations. SparkFun Electronics is an online retailer that sells the parts to make your project a reality. SparkFun has been a champion of open-source hardware and software since 2003 and remains a committed partner for education, professional development and technological literacy. Sparkfun provides educational resources, hookup guides and project tutorials for a range of ages and abilities from kindergarten to NASA.

“Sparkfun is always thrilled to support hackathons. The value for us is in working side by side with the people in our community to develop and deploy new solutions for a digital citizenry. We participate in hackathons across the country that focus on embedded systems, Internet of Things, Node.js and community-based problem solving,” Branson said. “It’s particularly fun for me to come back to the Capital District, where I grew up, and work with TVCOG!”

Kishor Bagul, entrepreneur and former chief technology officer of New York State and TVCOG board member, will also judge in the contest.


The hackathon’s theme is The Internet of Things (IoT) which is the network of physical objects or “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

TVCOG has teamed with AT&T to power the Internet of Things Hackathon.

“As an industry leader in the Internet of Things, a technology transforming how we live, communicate and work, AT&T is proud to collaborate with the Tech Valley Center of Gravity to power this hackathon and we’re excited to see the innovation that is developed during the event,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “Our continued investment in a robust mobile network, the backbone driving Internet of Things, as well as our activities with local organizations working to foster the resurgence of the local economy through technological innovation is evidence of our continued support of the Capital Region and the entire Tech Valley.”


Registration is required but participation is free in the Internet of Things Hackathon, hosted by the Tech Valley Center of Gravity and Powered by AT&T.

To register, visit: http://www.tvcog.net/index.php/hackathon/