/ Modified jan 5, 2018 10:58 a.m.

Hack Arizona Looks to Connect Students with Local Tech Companies

A new program called firstByte lets anyone with an interest in the Hackathon to get involved.

Hack Arizona 2017 Working on a drone at Hack Arizona, 2017. (PHOTO: Courtesy of Hack Arizona)

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The largest annual hackathon in the Southwest is preparing for its fourth edition, held on the University of Arizona campus, and this year it is giving students one-on-one job interviews with local and non-local tech companies.

Participants are put into groups where they come together to collaborate, innovate and create new forms of technology, like cell phone applications.

The 36-hour student-run event begins Jan. 12. Anthony Middleton, one of the logistics directors for Hack Arizona, says this is the first year attendees have a chance to interview tech companies that sponsor the event.

"Being able to get that one-on-one response from someone who has been in the technology field for so many years is a great way to motivate our attendees," Middleton said.

In addition to this year's event is the first time use of firstByte, a program created by Cooper Kunz, a student and organizer with Hack Arizona.

He said the program allows people who don't have any prior knowledge of or background in technology to get a chance to participate.

"We're doing this by hosting free introductory workshops on things like web development, app development, virtual reality, machine learning and artificial intelligence," Kunz said.

Hack Arizona is affiliated with InnovateUA, a student-led department at the university.

Last year, more than 800 people attended the event along with sponsors like Raytheon and Sunquest, which are based in Southern Arizona.

The event will be held Jan. 12-14 on the University of Arizona campus. Those interested can register here.

Follow Brandon Mejia on Twitter or contact him via email at BMejia@azpm.org.

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