SLIS Gets Ready to Hack!

September 15, 2016


Students prepare for a full night of hacking at SharkHack, September 30 - October 1

In preparation for SharkHack, the Simmons Hackathon, InfoLink chatted with Computer Science student Ellissa Barclay de Tolly about last year’s event, to give participants an idea of what to expect. This year’s event is organized by Karina Bercan, Ashley Chen, Shen Gao, Shayla Fitzpatrick, Rebecca Moreau, and Natalie Moore.

What is a hackathon?

A hackathon, in short, is a programming sprint. Participants are given a limited amount of time to create an app, product, website, widget—anything they are capable of making is fair game. Most people come to hackathons to strengthen their coding and developing skills, but hackathons sometimes welcome designers and entrepreneurs to pitch the final product to judges and peers.

SharkHack, the Simmons Hackathon, allows participants 24 hours to create whatever they want, and invites students to compete in teams with mentorship from professionals in the Tech Industry. Particularly impressive or imaginative hacks will receive a prize!


What is your role in planning SharkHack?

My particular role includes working with my peers to create eye-catching designs for the web, print, and SharkHack T-Shirts and Stickers (of which there will be plenty at the event). I’m also trying to get some special Snapchat filters underway for this year! Other than that, I help out with various public relations and student outreach assignments.

What is involved in the planning?

A hackathon requires a lot of generous contributions to run. We rely on sponsors who donate money, promotional items, and food to create the best experience possible for our participants. From there, student volunteers are in charge of branding, student and department outreach, finance, and many other components to make SharkHack as successful as possible.

What are your goals?

We want to cultivate an event where women, non-binary and trans participants feel comfortable working with and competing against like-minded peers with no fear of judgement or discrimination. With Computer Science being a very cisgender-male heavy field, we feel it is important to have a space where people are inspired to solve a problem, create something amazing, or even learn a new skill. Ultimately, we want people to be comfortable, make friends, and have a really fun time!

How can students get involved/participate?

Students can register to participate at, and people who have valuable technological skills and knowledge to contribute can register to be mentors. SharkHack takes place September 30 to October 1. Interested sponsors, volunteers, and anyone else with an inquiry is absolutely welcome to email us at

Photo from SharkHack 2015. Pictured: Karina Bercan (student co-chair), Katie Sittig-Boyd (student co-chair), Dean Eileen Abels, Prof. Nanette Veilleux, Provost Katie Conboy, Clare Pak (student co-chair), and Caitlyn Gemma (student co-chair). Photo Credit: Karina Bercan.