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Local Hack Day, and the people promoting tech at QC

On Saturday, Dec. 1st, Queens College hosted the coding-centric event Local Hack Day, an all-day series of workshops and a variety of other activities for computer science majors, aspiring programmers of all kinds, or anyone else interested in stopping by. The event was held in the Patio Room at the Dining Hall, with workshops and other activities being held in the Presidential Lounge next door.

As a public event, attendance was not restricted to any one group or major in particular. The primary reason for holding the event at QC, in the words of its coordinator, Sumaiya Tabassum, a senior computer science major, is to put more of an emphasis on the skills and potential that can be found among students here.

Tabassum has, over the last year, coordinated other tech events such as HackAttack, which was held in October. The event was QC’s first official “hackathon,” in which several teams of programmers may work together to design and code software within a set duration of time.

“The whole idea behind doing HackAttack was because Queens College never had a full 24-hour hackathon,” Tabassum explained. “So we wanted to show that, okay, it’s not just something that happens at Lehman, or other CUNYs, or just like, other schools.”

That same sentiment, to provide a demonstration of skill that highlights an under-represented group in coding, was also the impetus that sparked such other events as BQ Girlhacks, which also took place earlier in the year and placed its main focus on women in the programming field.

In helping to set up events such as these for QC students, Tabassum has worked with a wide variety of other clubs, companies and organizations in an effort to reach a greater range people. This includes students outside of the computer science major who may not be directly involved in coding, or even the tech field in general. In reaching a larger audience, she hopes to provide resources that are useful even to people who may find themselves in need of supplementary tech knowledge for whatever their future careers may be.

“Some people are like, tech is something useful, we should learn it,” she elaborated, “so we go to general clubs and we’re like, do you guys wanna have workshops every week? Maybe we can teach you something you want to learn, it doesn’t have to be crazy.”

Local Hack Day in particular was sponsored primarily by Major League Hackers, an organization supporting a multitude of people and similar events within or related to the tech field worldwide.

The CEO, Mike Swift, stopped by later in the day to greet attendees and give a sense of the event’s global turnout. “I think about 9,000 people have checked in all over the world so far today,” he mentioned, “and I have a feeling we’ll chase down another 1,000 or so over the next couple days.”

Among the other students present to help run the event was Wadgma Masab, another senior computer science major, who attested to the effect Tabassum has had on her involvement in the tech community. “It’s because of her, really, that I gained the confidence to become more active
in these communities,” she stated.

Among the tasks Masab undertakes, aided by Tabassum, is teaching Muslim women about web development. Teaching and running events like Local Hack Day are the sort of work that she believes is especially important at a place like QC. “A lot the students here are commuter students, so they don’t really stay around and connect with their community…having these resources, we can connect, we can meet each other.”  

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