Businesses in Gainesville are finding creative ways to keep talented computer programming students in town.
The most productive programmers can have a six-figure job secured by their junior year, and most students can earn a job that pays $50,000 to $60,000 after graduation, said Amir Rubin, organizer of a hackathon event put on by the Florida Innovation Hub at UF and some of its companies.
"A hacker means someone who can make something work," he said. "The great hackers don't do it for the money; they do it for the creation and the joy of it."
About 35 participants, mostly UF students, put their coding skills on display for companies to see Saturday in a 12-hour marathon coding session.
The Florida Innovation Hub at UF, 747 SW Second Ave., is part of the Innovation Square project that helps companies started at UF and around the state grow and succeed.
Competitors were given five computer-related scenarios to solve, or they could bring in their own.
"When you get together and do cool things, it builds the community," said Joe Thuemler, a 20-year-old math major.
He has been coding for six years and was an intern at Microsoft.
Thuemler and his team of two other UF students are making HypeFrog, a program used for presenting coding projects.
The program optimizes the projects for the web and makes the presentation aspect easier.
"This is an example of what I am going to be doing in the workplace," he said.
At the event, software companies such as Totuit, Shadow Health and Feathr were out recruiting.
"Because there are big names in the community here, you want to sell yourself," Thuemler said. "These people could be hiring you in the very near future."
Rubin, organizer of the hackathon and UF computer engineering alumnus, agrees.
Programming interns in the Gainesville community can be paid anywhere from $500 to $2,000 a month, he said.
At the competition, about seven technology companies were looking for interns to hire and keep in the Gainesville area, he said.
Tucker-Davis Technologies, UF's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Infinite Energy donated $500 each for prize money, he said.
"They are putting in a lot of money just to reach out to students," Rubin said.