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Engineering student plans Hack Day at York College to showcase all YCP offers

November 30, 2016
Joe Beck '17
Joe Beck '17 (pictured center)

All-nighters are something of a rite of passage for college students, and York College of Pennsylvania senior Joe Beck has endured his fair share.

No, the Electrical Engineering major and Computer Science minor doesn’t have a procrastination problem or course overload. He just loves his work – whether for class or his personal interests – that much.

So, it’s no surprise that, even after he and several fellow students poured hours into organizing YCP Hacks, a 36-hour hackathon for college students this past October, he sacrificed even more sleep to put together something similar: Hack Day.

Hack Day to showcase the campus

Unlike YCP Hacks, Hack Day is geared toward high school students and community members, who will come to campus and interact with students and faculty. They’ll still get a taste of a typical hackathon, where techies, coders and creatives alike meet to engage in collaborative computer programming

The Saturday, Dec. 3, event at the Kinsley Engineering Center on York College’s campus will give York County residents the behind-the-scenes look at all York College has to offer – from the intimate classroom settings to the personal relationships with faculty and the hands-on experience students have at their fingertips.

Putting together such events involves not only dealing with the logistics of schedules, rooms and equipment but also entails marketing and getting donations and corporate sponsors. It’s a lot of work – hence the long, late hours – but Beck has reaped many rewards.

“It was a blast. I got to meet people that I never would have met otherwise, and I am so thankful for some of the connections I was able to make,” he says. “Being able to organize events of this magnitude and have a hand in all aspects of the planning is great experience. When I start working full time, I will be faced with deadlines that are likely going to be difficult to plan for, and these events are full of that.”

Opening doors for students

Beck credits the support he and his fellow students received from staff and faculty such as Don Hake, instructor in Computer Science, who he says helped hone his skills. The relationship extended past just one course, leading to Hake’s mentorship for Beck’s programs and beyond.

The two note that Hake’s door is always open to his students, as are the doors of many faculty members. Some days, Beck will drop by just to chat. Other times, the discussion might get more serious. Either way is fine by both of them.

 “We don’t even have to be talking about class or their careers. Sometimes it’s just how their day is going or what is coming up in the future,” Hake says. “But faculty will also do just about anything for these students when they come up with an idea, to try to encourage it. We help them learn and encourage them to explore. If you try this and you fail or struggle, we’ll try to figure out how to keep you moving forward.”

Which is one of the great things about Beck’s experience at York College. Going into college, he says he knew his experience would be what he made of it. He quickly learned through organizing these events that he could have a major impact on his education – and he is grateful for the help he has received along the way.

“At York, you have the freedom to fail miserably or to become an all-star student,” he says. “Those willing to go the extra mile here will go away with something they could never get anywhere else. We have an incredibly supportive staff, and if a student displays an interest in their education, or the community, they can certainly expect to build incredible relationships with all of the professors and their classmates.”

Giving back with Hack Day

Hack Day is a way to give the community an opportunity to see the rich relationship students and faculty have at York College by interacting with them for a day on campus.

It is also a way for Beck and his fellow organizers to give back to the school that has given them such a great experience.

While talking to Hake during YCP Hacks and absorbing the energy from a successful event, Beck knew he had to put in some more late nights and organize Hack Day.

“I will never be able to walk away from an opportunity to help students and encourage them to help the community through their projects,” he says.

Even if it means very little sleep.