Hillsborough County will host its first Hillsborough Hack-A-Thon in Brandon, organized by students from the University of South Florida, University of Tampa and Hillsborough Community College.
Teams of techies will have up to 48 hours to hack away, identifying trends and developing applications to help residents or county government.
The City of Tampa hosted a hackathon in June. Createch, a USF student group, hosted a similar event in October, which County Commissioner Mark Sharpe attended. He then asked Createch to organize one for the county.
“One of the most groundbreaking things about this hackathon is the county is giving us live data,” said political science major Jovanna Williams, Createch’s vice president of administration.
Sharpe initiated the hackathon to keep graduates in Florida and promote innovation and technology business startups. People don’t realize Florida has the fourth-largest number of high-tech jobs in the nation.
“That’s where the growth sector is in our economy for sustainable jobs,” said Sharpe’s legislative aide, Eric Larson.
Hackathons “put you on the map in the tech community,” said Larson.
Someday, he said, more people will want to bring their businesses here, adding that the weather is great and there’s no personal income tax.
Williams said students want to participate “to code, use data, make cool stuff, see what works; see what doesn’t. ... Networking. … They’re going to let us go through the night, for  hours; that’s all the incentive a lot of these students need.”
The Hillsborough Hack-A-Thon kicks off at 5 p.m. April 12 at Hillsborough Community College-Brandon, 10414 E. Columbus Drive, Tampa.
Food, energy drinks, prizes and swag will be provided by sponsors, and more sponsors are needed.
Students, developers and designers may register online at www.hackhillsborough.com or contact Kemly Jiménez Green, Communications and Digital Media Services Department, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 276-2677. Sponsors may contact Green.