High school students across Alberta will have a chance this spring to show how extended reality (XR) technology can be used to benefit the real world with Hack and Seek: Alberta XR Career Quest.
The fun, free and highly competitive event is presented by Lethbridge College in collaboration with Bow Valley College, NAIT, Alberta Innovates and Digital Alberta. The hackathon will take place May 3 to 5 simultaneously at participating post-secondary campuses in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton.
While XR is an overarching term that encompasses virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) technologies, this competition will only make use of VR applications.
Any Grade 10, 11 or 12 student in Alberta can apply.
“Coding and development experience is not required, but students must have an interest in technology and a love of competition,” says Mike McCready, industry liaison and research advisor in the Spatial Technologies Applied Research and Training (START) Centre at Lethbridge College. “It’s an opportunity to explore XR technology as a viable and exciting career path and experience its potential in an interactive, hands-on environment.”
Hack and Seek applications are being accepted until March 11 at lethbridgecollege.ca/hackandseek.
To apply, students are asked to write about a VR application and briefly explain why they think it’s interesting, what excites them about VR, why they think it’s an effective technology and what they hope to learn by participating in the event.
The 90 students selected to compete will be given access to three online training workshops to help them prepare for the hackathon. At the event, they will be assigned to a team of three and tasked with creating a VR application for use in a real-world scenario. Teams will present their app to a panel of industry experts who will select a winner and award the $4,000 grand prize, to be split among the winning team members.
Between the pre-event workshops, time spent with industry experts and insiders, and the creative energy of the competition itself, Hack and Seek represents an extraordinary opportunity for students interested in technology to experience what could be an exciting career.
“Initiatives like Hack and Seek are essential in exposing youth to new career paths, promoting creativity, spurring entrepreneurship and creating pathways for the innovative thinking that our members need,” says Digital Alberta Executive Director Alecia Peters. “Our organization represents companies that span the creative technologies sector, and we see firsthand the impact of strong partnerships between educators and industry when it comes to developing the next generation of talent.”
McCready agrees and says “the hackathon isn’t just about competition. It’s a vibrant convergence of high school students, academics and industry professionals all coming together for a weekend of innovation, learning and fun. Lethbridge College is a leader in the field of virtual and augmented reality, and we couldn’t be more excited to host this event.”
Lethbridge College not only has an applied research division devoted to spatial technologies (the START Centre), it also offers a Virtual and Augmented Reality certificate program to students interested in developing XR applications, and the college is a principal member of the Metaverse Standards Forum, which supports the development of interoperability standards for an open and inclusive metaverse.
Hack and Seek: Alberta XR Career Quest is Alberta’s first provincial XR hackathon.