The University of Iowa’s Dev/Iowa program will host its first hackathon in downtown Iowa City on March 27-29. The event kicks off around 7 p.m. and will continue all day Saturday, wrapping up Sunday afternoon.

The event is free and open to anyone with technical interest, and all skill levels are encouraged.

A hackathon brings together programmers and other participants to work over an extended period of time on web, software, and hardware projects. Some hackathons specialize in specific software, hardware, or tools for accessing and connecting to existing data or application. But for this one, everyone is invited to make what they want during the weekend.

Participants are free to come and go and will either split into teams or work on their own on projects of their choice. Dev/Iowa will line up potential projects and ideas and make available a wide variety of software and hardware options (including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and Kinect), but it’s up to the hackers to pick the projects they want to work on for the weekend. Participants who have an idea ahead of time should let the Dev/Iowa staff know so organizers might offer support through a mentor or by gathering the hardware needed.

Dev/Iowa program coordinator Zach Sanderson hopes to make the hackathon a recurring event, not only in Iowa City but across the state.

“I think it’s a good opportunity to get everybody in the community together, to get a sense of what’s going on out there, what things people are interested in, what we should focus on, what the community’s strong points are and how we can build on that,” said Sanderson.

No matter the skill level of the participants, Sanderson hopes they will leave the event with confidence in their ability to work on their own projects and the projects of others.

The event also gives participants the chance to meet like-minded individuals, Sanderson said, since technical pursuits are often solitary pursuits.

“I hope they’ll get to know other people in the community and realize that there are a lot of people that have similar interests to them out there,” he said.

Dev/Iowa is also seeking volunteers and sponsors to help make the event a success.

To register for the hackathon, get more information, or become a sponsor, visit http://www.deviowa.com/hackathon/ or email Sanderson at deviowa@uiowa.edu.

Dev/Iowa is an initiative of the UI Partners Program in the University of Iowa Office of Research and Economic Development, which supports and advances research, scholarship, and creative activity on the campus and promote economic development across Iowa. More information at http://research.uiowa.edu.