Friday, April 12, 2024

MSU Spartan Hackers use technology to innovate life hacks

October 6, 2023
<p>Students helping other students practice coding during the Spartan Hackers workshop at Wonders Hall on Oct. 5, 2023.</p>

Students helping other students practice coding during the Spartan Hackers workshop at Wonders Hall on Oct. 5, 2023.

Photo by Donté Smith | The State News

The word "hack" is often associated with shadowy figures in a dark room, furious typing and scary "error" and "breach" messages

Although "hacking" is generally viewed as gaining illegal access to a computer system, to the Michigan State University Spartan Hackers, it means something different.

The Spartan Hackers club began in 2012, and is one of MSU’s largest and oldest computer science organizations. The club has hundreds of active members, including 1,200 in their Discord chat room

Spartan Hackers President and computer science senior Rajmeet Singh Chandok said despite negative connotations surrounding their name, the club works to educate their members about computer science and create a strong community.

“A lot of people actually misunderstand that when we say ‘hackers,’ we are not people who try to steal information out of your email accounts, or... steal your money,” Chandok said. “'Hackers', in general, refers to this concept of people who are passionate towards changing the world and making an impact. ‘Hackers,’ also is a term that we call people who go to hackathons.”

Hackathons are typically 24-48 hour competitive marathons, where participants try to creatively solve coding projects.

spartanhackers_10523_DS4.jpg

Rajmeet Singh Chandok, senior majoring in computer science, gives directions during the Spartan Hackers workshop at Wonders Hall on Oct. 5, 2023.

Club Vice President and computer science sophomore Rachel Loren said the club is also about using technology to create innovate life hacks. 

“That’s what technology is all about,” Loren said. “It’s supposed to make life easier.”

Loren added that the more "traditional" view of hacking is more along the lines of what MSU's Cybersecurity Club would do.

Computer science sophomore Divya Lakshmi said Spartan Hackers try to represent their values by attending MSU resource and career fairs.

“We are always telling people that Spartan Hackers is all about ethical hacking, not just like ... breaking into something," Lakshmi said. "It’s ... (more) like going to hackathons and creating hacks ... to help solve real world problems and bring a change to the world.”

While preparing club members for Hackathons, Chandok said, members will work closely, form connections and have fun.

“That’s the main motive," he said. "There are these hackathons, which are happening all over the world, all over the United States. And we essentially train these people to go to these hackathons and ... win prizes for MSU.”

spartanhackers_10523_DS2.jpg

Rajmeet Singh Chandok, senior majoring in computer science, leads the Spartan Hackers workshop at Wonders Hall on Oct. 5, 2023.

Chandok said club members can use these Hackathons to gain real world experience, helping many gain internships in BigTech companies. Even having the club projects as part of a portfolio can be beneficial to students of all majors, not just computer science, he said.

“Experience and stuff, at least for me, (was) a big part of why I joined the club,” Loren said. “I joined the club last year and then stuck with it.”

Though the majority of Spartan Hackers are computer science majors, Loren said, anyone is welcome to join.

“It’s primarily computer science and the related majors,” Loren said. “However, that being said, we try to make our workshops and our meetings and stuff as beginner-friendly as possible, so other majors can join. And we have seen it.”

Chandok said members don't have to have coding experience to attend events or workshops throughout the semester. He added that Spartan Hackers can also help students with ideas they may not know how to translate into code.

Support student media! Please consider donating to The State News and help fund the future of journalism.

Those with questions or seeking more information can visit the Spartan Hackers website and join the club's Discord.

“At the end of the day, we’re all engineering majors, mostly students, so we have classes and other commitments and stuff,” Lakshmi said. “And the discord is actually really supportive (we share) slides and resources..., so that members who couldn’t make it can stay (in) the loop."

spartanhackers_10523_DS8.jpg

Students helping other students practice coding during the Spartan Hackers workshop at Wonders Hall on Oct. 5, 2023.

Discussion

Share and discuss “MSU Spartan Hackers use technology to innovate life hacks” on social media.