Northland Hackathon will show students opportunities in tech

The third Northland Hackathon less than a month away.

While “hacking” may sound like it could be nefarious, this event is all about connecting high school students to the possibilities in the tech industry, from startups to companies like Microsoft and coding to graphic design.

“Yeah, so when I was in high school, I really didn’t really want anything to do with computers. I didn’t find it that interesting, I didn’t find it that exciting,” Northland Hackathon Founder Luke Heine said. “And then when I went to college, I was able to kind of explore the field and kind of got sucked into it.”

Heine is originally from Cloquet and now lives in Boston, working for Microsoft on Generative AI projects.

“And then this report came out by this company called, this nonprofit, that listed Minnesota as last in the nation for providing public computer science classes. And I think most Minnesotans like being from Minnesota, and so for that one, I was like, no, we can’t have that,” Heine said.

So he decided to start the Hackathon. The main event is happening fully virtually on Saturday, April 20, but there are also talks and meetings leading up to the day.

“So basically, we put students into teams and then together, we give them kind of like a theme to work towards. Last year was Tech for Good,” he said. “And then together, they work together to kind of come up with a project at the end of the day. And then we assess it and give them feedback so they can grow.”

It’s free to participate, and anyone who does gets a T-shirt.

“The big thing is really to show students that, hey, this is a really big space. There’s a lot of really cool things in here. And while it’s great if you want to write code and participate in it, you also don’t need to write code in the space and you can still work in tech,” Heine said.

Registration is open now.