Editorial | In Praise of PennApps




L a st weekend, the Engineering Quad played host to a striking sight: over 1,000 students from countries all over the world, gathered together for 48 straight hours, struggling through a project that was time-consuming and difficult but had no guaranteed monetary payoff.

The amount of organization and planning required to pull off PennApps every year is astounding. Not only is PennApps entirely student-run, but the organizers also reimburse the travel costs of every participating team, some of which come from countries as far away as Singapore or Germany. Funding the entire event comes out to around $200,000, an incredible amount to raise considering that the University finances exactly zero percent of that.

We want to commend the organizers of PennApps for their hard work and determination in making the event happen, semester after semester, and somehow managing to make it better each time.

It’s not just the organizers who make the event the success that it is, but also the students who set aside their entire weekend to participate in the event. After all, as Varun Sampath said, most apps built during PennApps are ultimately destined for “the trash.” This year’s competition not only brought in college students, but also involved about 40 high schoolers and many more Ph.D. and graduate students.

At Penn, it’s easy to find ourselves caught up in the endless list of things we know we “should” do - from homework for that class you only took because it fulfilled a sector requirement, to 50 summer internship applications, to the research position you took on top of your work-study job - and push aside the things we actually love doing. Perhaps we could all learn a little from the coders who gathered this weekend and walked away sleep-deprived, behind on classwork and probably as broke as they started - but happy regardless.

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