My Experience at Stanford TreeHacks 2018 & Tips for Hackathon Beginners

What was it like?

Laura Butler giving her amazing keynote presentation.

What did our team make?

An example of what a psychiatrist may see on her side of the platform.

How did I contribute?

What did I learn/gain more experience on?

  • How to use Matplotlib and deal with time-series data.
  • That it was kind of really hard to plot probabilities as a function of time. Even more challenging was to visualize human emotions. Here were some gnarly graphs that we tested out:
  • That some data visualizations are utterly useless and do not help us understand anything better.
  • How to build a basic web application with Python using Flask.
  • A lot of git and how to collaborate with other people on Github. Frankly my CS classes did not prepare me enough so this was an awesome experience. All credits to my teammates who were really patient with my git ignorance and walked me through a lot of things.
  • Relational and object-relational databases with SQLite and Peewee.
  • The importance of having clear plans and communication.
  • Last but not least, I learned to be humble after seeing how much dedication and technical knowledge other participants at the hackathon had. At the same time, these people really inspired me to keep on learning and working hard on my passions.

What’s next and how can I keep improving after the hackathon?

A message to hackathon beginners + tips

  • Talk to the mentors. They are there to help!
  • Talk to the sponsors, too. Especially if you are using their products.
  • Find a team and an idea that really excites you. It will push you to do much more and go much farther.
  • Many hackathons provide hackpacks/starter packs to help get you running quickly, so be sure to check them out.
  • Attend as many workshops as you can if they interest you. They are invaluable and often well put together.
  • Talk to other people and see what they are doing. I guarantee you’ll be amazed most of the time.
  • I can’t say for everyone, but my goal for attending a hackathon is to have fun and learn as much as I can. If at the end I come out with something new in my toolbox, I’m happy.
  • Lastly: watch out for your diet. It’s easy to binge eat during a hackathon, considering all the free food and snacks (and sugary caffeinated drinks) that are given out. You are what you eat and you definitely do not want to put crap in your body on top of not giving it enough sleep for 24–48 hours straight.
  • Bonus: You’ll get to keep cool stickers too if you attend one!




Applied mathematician & PhD student in computational social science. This is a notepad for my math/data-related thoughts, among other things.

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Unchitta Kan

Unchitta Kan

Applied mathematician & PhD student in computational social science. This is a notepad for my math/data-related thoughts, among other things.

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