UW students Benedict Fritz (left) and Alex Wyler (right) hack the night away during the Facebook Hackathon last weekend. The grand prize included a trip to Facebook’s headquarters in California.[/media-credit]



Bonus interview footage!

Facebook software engineers and the University of Wisconsin’s most tech-savvy students united for 12 hours of Red Bull-fueled hacking Friday.

Facebook’s Hackathon at UW marks their second stop on a five-school tour aimed at encouraging students to design something innovative under extreme time constraints.

“A Hackathon is a designated time to stop all normal work to try to hack together something crazy; it’s a time to take risks,” said Paul Tarjan, Facebook software engineer. “We have some of our most ingenious times while hacking.”

Teams of one to four people were instructed to bring only laptops and their own original ideas.

While binging on food and unlimited energy drinks throughout the night, teams spent 10 hours creating new applications and programs that could someday be adopted by the social networking giant.

Facebook software engineers were on hand to navigate tech issues and guide teams.

“The idea of a Hackathon sounded like fun and maybe it’ll result in a future job offer,” UW senior Matt Mueller said.

The most outstanding hack won the grand prize: a trip to Facebook headquarters in California.

When judging rolled around, the 13 submissions covered the gamut from highly useful to downright bizarre.

Among the products were “Hola Mundo,” which linked Google maps to practical information about a country, a movie application linking IMDb to your Netflix queue and a game where friends’ profile pictures duke it out for social superiority.

In the end, the “Music Painter”- an application similar to Paint that makes music in five instruments and keys -nabbed the trip to California.

Magic Grade Ball, which aims to predict grades based on past performance, took first prize.

“It was just fun to be around people who enjoy doing the same thing,” UW senior Benedict Fritz said. “It’s also important to support a company that fosters creativity and building a company around people who like what they do.”

Marcia Velencia, a Facebook recruiter, stated that Madison was a natural choice to host the event for its strong computer science program and Badger alumni on the engineering team.

“This is Everest,” Tarjan. “Do it, go home, change the world!”