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With Hack Upstate just one month away, we thought this a favorable opportunity to explore the backgrounds of a few participants. The following bios capture a small subset of the exceptional talent that will be on display at Hack Upstate April 6th – 7th.

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Samantha Ruddy

Where are you going to school (if applicable)? I’m a student at Syracuse University in the iSchool’s Information Management and Technology program.

Where are you employed (if applicable)? I’m currently remotely employed as a project manager at The 7th Chamber in New York City and last summer I was a web development intern at Rounded Development in the Tech Garden.

What skill sets are you bringing to Hack Upstate? Although I have the most formal experience in Ruby on Rails, I’ve been developing in Javascript most frequently lately and have been playing around with HTML5 and CSS3 in the context of interaction design. I’m hoping my Javacript knowledge could be of use with whichever APIs we decide to use and that my more design-oriented skills will be useful in making whatever app we create pretty.

Why are you attending Hack Upstate? I’m attending Hack Upstate for a couple of reasons. The biggest one being that I think it will be an invaluable learning experience that will help me become a better developer. Another reason is because I feel it’ll give me more experience working with a team since a lot of my “for fun” development is done independently. My final reason is that I couldn’t pass up a chance to spend an entire weekend with the Syracuse Tech Community.

Github: samiiruddy

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 Jacob Beard

Age: 27

Where are you going to school (if applicable)? Completing a MSc. in Computer Science at McGill University.

Where are you employed (if applicable)? INFICON, a manufacturer of scientific instruments in East Syracuse.

What skill sets are you bringing to Hack Upstate? Lots and lots of JavaScript: on the front-end, via jQuery and AngularJS; on the server, via Node.js; in mobile apps, via PhoneGap; in the database, via MongoDB; and interfacing with hardware, via Johnny-Five. Anywhere you can embed the “lingua franca of scripting languages” is where I want to be.

Why are you attending Hack Upstate? I love hackathons, because I love to hack. I find it amazing that we, as hackers and engineers, can take a new, interesting idea and in 48 hours develop, not just a proof-of-concept, but a working product that can then be enjoyed and shared with others. We have the power to imagine, dream, and see our ideas realized, and hackathons allow us to fully explore this ability with our peers. It’s an elevating experience to work with other people who will stay up all night hacking on new technology, purely because it’s a fun thing to do.

Github: jbeard4

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Ariel Norling

Age: 21

Where are you going to school (if applicable)? Syracuse University

Where are you employed (if applicable)? Unemployed (also known as an entrepreneur)

What skill sets are you bringing to Hack Upstate? UX/UI design & front-end development

Why are you attending Hack Upstate? I’m attending Hack Upstate because hacking is my favorite activity. It gives me a chance to flex my creative muscles and I always learn way more from a couple of days at a hackathon than I do all semester in any of my classes. It’s a great excuse to work on something other than work for class, meet like minded people, and just make cool things. I learned everything I know about web development and entrepreneurship from hanging out with likeminded people from Upstate; this is my chance to contribute back to that community.

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Christopher Becker

Age: 21

Where are you going to school (if applicable)? Syracuse University (Senior)

What skill sets are you bringing to Hack Upstate? Programming knowledge and some design skills

Why are you attending Hack Upstate? I am attending Hack Upstate first and foremost to meet and network with developers, designers, and entrepreneurs in the CNY area. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with talented individuals and learn about their skill sets. I also believe that it is a great learning opportunity and a great chance to work on my own skills. Also, beer.

Github: CBeck527

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Ryan St. Pierre

Age: 20

Where are you going to school (if applicable)?  I’m a student at Syracuse University studying Systems and Information Science through the iSchool and the College of Engineering.

Where are you employed (if applicable)? I work for SU as the Student Entrepreneurial Consultant, helping students get their ideas off the ground and supporting cross-campus entrepreneurship.

What skill sets are you bringing to Hack Upstate? Pitching, Frontend Web Development, Hardware Prototyping, C, Ruby and Haskell

Why are you attending Hack Upstate? I am attending Hack Upstate to work with a group of talented, really fun people for a weekend. I’m looking forward to making new connections and building some really cool stuff. I love hackathons because of the amount you can learn in such a small amount of time. It forces you to focus and push yourself to make something in a short amount of time. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone creates.

For news and updates, follow Hack Upstate on Twitter @hackupstate and subscribe to the newsletter. Please direct any questions regarding logistics and sponsorship opportunities to Doug Crescenzi (Rain) and Mitchell Paterson (Centerstate CEO).