By: Hailey Temple

Chris Becker, a senior at the School of Information Studies (iSchool), participated in the 2013 Foursquare Hackathon in New York City. Becker, alongside partner Joe Petrellis, a 4th year Drexel University student, challenged over 430 participants to develop interactive applications using Foursquare’s platform in just 12 hours. Foursquare also opened the hackathon to other developers at their office in San Francisco and to others around the world.

Becker, who has experience developing apps and other technology, was motivated to participate in the hackathon as an educational and networking opportunity. “We went in knowing we were out of our league, but we figured we would go and see what happens. It was great talking to developers and Foursquare engineers to see how we could most effectively use their platform,” said Becker.

Past Foursquare Hackathons have lead to a number of quality apps. For example, an app originally titled foursquareand7yearsago was eventually created and released as Timehop.

Becker and Petrellis ultimately created an application that allows users to see the closest Wi-Fi access points to the user’s check-in location. By grabbing the closest Wi-Fi access points to the user’s geographic location, the application is intended to ease the process of searching for Wi-Fi service in the city.

“We know we didn’t create the most polished or original application, but it was a great opportunity to talk to bounce ideas off of other classically trained developers and to get an inside look at Foursquare and see what they use,” said Becker. “If we had a question, we could even ask developers working in San Francisco or elsewhere for advice and they would send over tips and ideas to make the app better.”

Becker’s submission was among over 80 apps submitted during the hackathon. This year’s winner, Gym Shamer, is an app that allows users to set personal fitness goals. Prizes that included tickets to SXSW Interactive, the opportunity to ring the NASDAQ closing bell, and a Foursquare Hackathon title belt, incentivized participants to submit apps and join the event. Foursquare CEO and iSchool alumnus Dennis Crowley also joined developers to experience the event.

By participating in the Foursquare Hackathon, Becker understands the importance of hacking for both developers and companies. “Hacking events span such a wide group of people and allows these people to create more and even better ideas. It also allows companies like Foursquare to see how developers can use their platform in ways they never thought were possible. I definitely think we are in the middle of a shift from a classic IT scenario to a new place where people are sharing ideas through hacking.”