Jonathan Gottfried is co-founder of Major League Hacking, or MLH, the official student hackathon league. Major League Hacking’s vision is to inspire students worldwide from both traditional and non-traditional backgrounds. They’ve influenced new generations of engineers; from software, hardware, and mechanical disciplines in the events they have thrown worldwide. Learn more about Jonathan and his inspiring work at MLH.

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Show Highlights:

  • Jonathan started off as a hobbyist programmer when he was a little kid, building websites and games, and playing around with different technologies. 
  • As a student, he would build apps for people as a source of income, and after graduation, landed the amazing role of Developer Evangelist at Twilio Inc.
  • While attending CS classes he was exposed to the massive community of passionate tech students who wanted to build things for fun and saw the considerable disconnect between what they were learning in classes and the actual day-to-day work in the industry.
  • Major League Hacking is the global community for student developers. They are best known for their hackathons—weekend-long invention competitions in which developers, designers, engineers, and product people come together with their own ideas and build working prototypes in a very short time.
  • Major League Hacking also offers technical workshops through its Major League Hacking localhost program, where students can learn a specific, bite-sized skill in an hour or two.
  • The coaches at Major League Hacking are student leaders and role models building a diverse community on a local level.
  • A new acronym, ‘STEAM’ (rather than ‘STEM’) incorporates the arts. Jon feels strongly that technology is an art and incorporates building products that resonate with people.
  • Because the divide between hardware and software is blurring, Major League Hacking makes hardware available at the hacking events—exposure is the first step to becoming passionate about hardware. 
  • What is the impact of exposure on non-traditional students? It can be a life-changing experience to be involved in a technical community of supportive, inclusive, passionate and creative people. It can provoke a passion which sitting in a normal class isn’t always able to achieve.  
  • The impact on traditional STEM students includes gaining skills for the customer discovery process, for example; it’s a self-driven process.
  • The hackathon process is: come up with an idea; get a team excited and on board, and then build the product together—encouraging more soft skills, such as team building, creative thinking, problem-solving, etc.
  • In the traditional university model, there isn’t enough focus on the practical aspects of STEM because funding is mainly reserved for research.
  • The barriers imposed by lack of hardware access are diminished by the prevalence of cloud hosting.
  • Technology is being unleashed in this day and age, and in the coming years it’s going to be even more drastic—creators have a responsibility to ‘use their powers for good.’ 
  • Major League Hacking provides resources to students for free, thanks to corporate sponsorship—get involved!   

Links and Resources:

Find out more about how your company can get involved with MLH
If you're a student, learn more about our upcoming hackathons here
Join us in October for Local Hack Day
Host a technical workshop in your club or meetup
Come work for MLH
Altium Student Stories

Follow MLH on social media:
Jon Gottfried - @jonmarkgo
Major League Hacking - @MLHacks

Learn, connect, and get inspired at AltiumLive 2019: Annual PCB Design Summit.

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