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Evans architect wants to Hack Augusta

Posted: October 31, 2012 - 12:04am
Courtney Huynh (from left), Holly McInnes and Hanna Hatcher, pupils at Greenbrier Middle School, participated in a "deconstruction derby," in which they took apart cell phones and other devices to see how they work.  Special Photo
Special Photo
Courtney Huynh (from left), Holly McInnes and Hanna Hatcher, pupils at Greenbrier Middle School, participated in a "deconstruction derby," in which they took apart cell phones and other devices to see how they work.

Evans resident Eric Parker wants to change the way people think.

Parker, a co-organizer of Hack Augusta, has taken to educating people not only on technology and its risks and rewards, but also how we interact with it.

He believes that in hacking, or learning how to exploit the rules and structures of things, society can better understand more complex systems.

And he believes Augusta is a good place to start.

Hack Augusta is part educational foundation, part activist organization and part think-tank. The organization will demonstrate its abstract ideas by asking locals to brainstorm solutions for real-world problems at its Hack for Augusta event Friday.

The event gathers developers, programmers, designers, marketers and others interested in innovation for an 18-hour blitz on a variety of educational issues.

Project presentations will be made to the general public at the inaugural CSRA Innovation Festival at the Augusta State University Amphitheater this Saturday.

Raised in Martinez, Parker left the area to hone his skills as an architect in Palo Alto, Calif. He returned a little more than two years ago, family in tow.

“One day I was riding by the old Sibley Mill and had, I guess, what you would call an ‘aha’ moment.”

That led him to explore the idea of converting the mill into an innovation center focused on problem-solving in a cooperative environment. He sees it as a place where labs, design studios and even modest fabrication facilities can coexist and develop new technologies and ideas. He said he presented the idea to the Augusta tech community and local government and received some support.

The trick, he admits, will be raising the money and adjusting the way the community views its resources.

He said for years trained personnel from Fort Gordon, Savannah River Site and the medical college have looked away from Augusta. He wants to give them a reason to stay.

Starting small, with projects such as Hack for Augusta and Desconstruction Derbies, which takes computers, smartphones and other items into schools and allows students to take them apart, Parker hopes to build a foundation.

He said the goal is to introduce the idea of the hack into the local vernacular. He said once people have an easy definition for innovative thinking, that thinking, in theory, will follow.

“That’s what all of this is about,” he said. “It’s about getting people to accept the hack.”

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