Programming for a purpose: student spearheads hackathon


James Pampeyan

Marc Bacvanski has always enjoyed computer science. From running hackathons to creating apps that help students, he has always been passionate about programming. As president of the Computer Science Club, Bacvanski is spearheading this year’s school hackathon, MV Hacks. The event takes place on March 30th, and students can find more information at

Bacvanski started programming with a Lego robotics kit his dad gave him. In middle school, he experienced his first introduction to a more professional programming language after taking a Java course at San Jose State University.

As he continued with his passion, Bacvanski was introduced to hackathons, traditionally 24-hour events where participants create projects that are presented to judges for prizes. He signed up for his first in 2011 with his friends because he enjoyed the idea of creating a project in 24 hours and presenting it. Local companies like Google and LinkedIn sponsor these events and allow participants to network with them.

“The first [one] I went to it took a lot of convincing to get me to go because I didn’t know what it was,” Bacvanski said.

Bacvanski has organized MV Hacks for the past two years and said he has worked to make the event more accessible. This year’s event, held at Cisco Systems, will allot 12 hours for students to design and create a program that will be judged with the possibility of earning prizes.

Bacvanski said the majority of past MV Hacks attendees had never attended a hackathon before. He also said that besides the time difference, the hackathons he hosts are “moving from purely software hacks to hacks that involve hardware.”

When Bacvanski is not organizing hackathons, he is developing programs that help the community. Along with Patrick Brown, Daniel Ciao, Mr. Nguyen and others, Bacvanski developed, a program that shows the bell schedule and school events from the Associated Student Body calendar, to help students remember their schedules and get around school. The app has on average 2000 users a month, according to Bacvanski.

Bacvanski said the aim of the app is to help new students transition to MVHS by informing them of campus events, the bell schedule, and locations on campus. He is also working on an early warning earthquake detection system project with Deuce Technologies. The company has sensory nodes all around the Bay Area and to gather vibration data to determine if an earthquake is happening and alert people about it.

“The idea is if you’re a hospital or school or a nuclear power plant, you can shut down stuff or not open someone’s heart right before the earthquake,” Bacvanski said.

Bacvanski said he plans to pursue computer science and attend hackathons in college. He also hopes he can continue using his passions to give back to his community, as “seeing people use the apps that I make and how happy they are” keeps him going.