Friends University Hack-A-Thons benefit Wichita-area youth and community organizations

Some students from Wichita area middle and high schools are spending two Saturdays per month throughout the school year developing their technology skills and helping local businesses.

Currently, five to nine students from third through eighth grade, along with several Friends University students, participate in the Hack-A-Thon sessions, according to Dr. Dick Teter, professor of computer science and information systems and organizer of the sessions.

“High school and middle school students meet and work with college students and participate in a learning community that holds learning events and helps with community projects,” Dr. Teter said. “They get to learn new skills in a non-graded, self-paced environment. It provides them a college-like experience and lets them find out what Friends has to offer.”

Started in 2016, the Hack-A-Thons have benefited community organizations, including developing a database application to help Rotary clubs better manage speakers and building a website to help track students who have completed required reading assignments for Friends University Study Abroad programs.

The group continues to maintain a South Central Kansas Problem Gambling Task Force website while participants also find time to program Lego Mindstorms robots, use Raspberry Pi to write music and record videos, and create computer games. In fact, if they finish their computer games in time, the participants will have a pizza party and play each other’s finished games.

“The Hack-A-Thons have been a blast since the beginning,” said Cameron Riley, a Friends University freshman computer science major who has participated in the Hack-A-Thons since he was a senior in high school. “They have allowed me to work with some of the tools I will be using in the future and allowed me to create connections with some of the other students and professors.”

Christopher Gregg, a freshman who is majoring in computer science and information systems and business administration, said his experiences with the Hack-A-Thon group directly led to an internship.

“Being part of the Hack-A-Thon group helped me get an internship at NetApp, especially since I got it in the fall semester of my freshman year. The group was able to help me develop and present skills to NetApp that I would not have had otherwise,” Gregg said.

The group welcomes new participants of all skill levels at any time throughout the semester as newcomers provide new ideas and skills, Dr. Teter said. The group will have its first meeting of the spring semester Saturday, Jan. 27, in Lab 7 in the Olive White Garvey Business and Technology Building on the Friends campus.

To learn more, contact Dr. Teter at or 316-295-5899.

Friends University, a Christian University of Quaker heritage, equips students to honor God and serve others by integrating their intellectual, spiritual and professional lives.