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Valley Hackathon programming competition back in Modesto on Friday

The third annual Valley Hackathon – a 24-hour competition for programmers – will be held Friday in downtown Modesto.

More than 100 programmers are expected to turn out, competing in teams of one to four participants to build a software project in just a day. Each will be judged by a panel on how complete, viable, aesthetically pleasing and technical it is.

Competitors can register right up until check-in begins at 5 p.m. Friday. As of Monday, there were 81 participants.

The top 10 teams will present their hacks in the event’s finals. Prejudging will take place during the final hour of the programming time.

The event was begun to harness interest and talent in technology within the Central Valley, but has grown to draw entrants from as far away as the Bay Area, Sacramento and Fresno, organizers say. Participation in the Valley Hackathon has increased from 22 participants in 2015 to 63 last year.

“The Central Valley’s economy is seeing a big shift right now,” said David White, chief executive officer of Opportunity Stanislaus, one of the event’s sponsoring organizations, in a news release. “We see hackathons as a sort of pipeline for talent in the technology sector and believe that events like the Valley Hackathon will be instrumental in creating connections for this community, as well as nurturing the innovative ideas such an event creates. This is a fun event in and of itself but it’s also a piece in the larger puzzle that is a local revolution of sorts.”

Other sponsors include Inventaweb, the Alliance Small Business Development Center, Oportun and California Community Colleges.

The free event draws some amazing talent, organizers say, but the hackathon also is for beginning programmers and designers. The minimum age to compete is 18.

“Though 24 hours is not a ton of time, we have been very impressed by the complexity of the projects,” said Phillip Lan, Valley Hackathon organizer and head of business development for Hearst Digital. “We’ve seen everything from a program designed to sample soil moisture to software that scanned movie reviews to create viewing suggestions to users based on their current mood, so competitors will want to be sure their project is both inventive and interesting.”

The winning teams will walk away with more than $5,000 in prize money

Other draws include chair massages, free meals, snacks and energy drinks and a Lego competition with its own separate kitty.

This year’s hackathon has a “Star Wars” theme and a prize for the best team “Star Wars” cosplay.

The event will be at Redeemer Church, at 820 H St. Check-in is at 5 p.m., orientation at 6, and the competition begins at 6:30. To learn more, visit www.valleyhackathon.com.

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