Santa Cruz Tech Beat

Santa Cruz Tech Ecosystem

An accumulation of positivity – a student reflects on HACK UCSC weekend

by Alexander Rowe
UCSC Student

Last minute team


1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners pose after the HACK UCSC weekend, April 2014. The three students on the right are the Project Slug team.

On Wednesday, I saw a flyer for Hack UCSC. On Thursday, I signed up 15 minutes before registration closed. On Friday, I brushed up on my web developing. And on Saturday morning I found myself thinking hard about what I would want to do as Hack UCSC began. There I met Maria Lopez Latorre, a Spanish exchange student, and Bruce Su, a freshman from China, and we all wanted to work on an idea that a mentor proposed. We altered and honed an idea for a project we call Project Slug.

Project Slug is a website that allows UCSC student to find other people to collaborate on projects with. For example, a film major could find a music major to write the film score, or a game design major find an artist to design game art.

Let the coding begin

Once we had the idea, we got to work coding, designing, eating pizza and getting to know one another in the 32 hours we had. We ended with a functional website and a neat iPhone app that accomplished what we had in mind for the project.

On Sunday we presented to a judge, and to our surprise Project Slug made it to the finals. We had to give a nerve-racking presentation in front of all participants, and were told the results will be given over a dinner for the finalists at Terra Fresca.


Upon arriving at the dinner, we were further astonished to find that there was a fancy buffet dinner with 50 or so people from the tech industry and Santa Cruz community, and we had to present to them!

After the presentations, the winners were announced. We got second place! We couldn’t believe all this was happening so quickly. We were handed the business cards of several CEOs that told us “we should talk.”

An accumulation of positivity

The whole experience for me was an ongoing accumulation of positivity, and my teammates and I found ourselves at the end of the night recounting the events of the last two days while holding the giant foam check for $3000, not wanting the day to end.

We decided to split the check, $1000 each. I plan to put my share into savings and use it to fund any projects in the future.



Sara Isenberg publishes Santa Cruz Tech Beat for the benefit of the extended business and technology community. When she is not volunteering her time for the tech scene, Sara makes her living by managing software projects, web strategy planning, and providing development team services (including account management, vendor management, strategic partner management, beta project management, referrals to qualified technical team members, and more). Please visit her website: Sara Isenberg Web Consulting & Project Management, or contact Sara by email if you have any project management, account management, or Development Team leadership or service needs.


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