The Hackathon Experience!!
At some point in your life as a programmer, a friend or colleague will tell you about a hackathon. You may imagine green code racing down a black background as someone frantically types at an ancient computer until they relax and say “I’m in,” but that’s not what will happen at your first hackathon.
At a hackathon, anywhere from a few dozen to several thousand programmers come together over a weekend to build the coolest stuff they can in 24–48 hours. There’s lots of food and free swag from companies, and at the end of the weekend, judges award prizes to their favorite projects. While a great hack might have you walking away with a trophy or a brand new smartphone, the prizes are hardly the best part of the weekend — be prepared to meet tons of new people, learn about a bunch of new things and have a lot of fun!
While a hackathon is an environment where you do almost everything on-the-fly, preparing ahead of time helps to ensure success. Hackathons are learning experiences and, while it’s common to see new programmers win big prizes, it’s still a good idea to be familiar with at least one combination of language and framework ahead of time. You’ll be able to jump right into building software as soon as the opening ceremony closes, instead of spending a lot of time learning the basics of programming.
Let me tell my hackathon story and how it all started.
I was ready for my very first hackathon with my girls. We had exams that week, we completed our exams and took permission from our HOD & Class Teacher. When we reached the venue and this was the very first time we all were going to such a big campus (CEG, Guindy),we didn’t knew the place and we wasted more than a hour. After lot of struggle we found our way around. It was a 18 hours girls hackathon called #codeher
Our team “One by zero” created a web app called Events-On-Campus-Get to know “What’s going on in the campus?” I was not confident with my very first hackathon because none of us attended a hackathon before and we had no idea of how to start. We sat down and thought of what to do and how to do, Then we came up with the real time problem which was to build a web app for to notify college events to the students. The admins and selected organizers can add events and based on subscriptions students will get notification.
They announced the winners and it was a coincidence all the winners were from Anna university. Although we did not win but definitely we had a lot to learn from this hackathon.
But we didn’t stop here. Next it was time for our second hackathon . We registered for the KCG HACKATHON — AI in learning and teaching. So we formed a team and called it Pandits.
Me and my friend were really excited. We knew what we are going to do tomorrow so we started the preparation. We learned how to use dialogflow. We left early morning to the venue which was KCG College of Technology. This hackathon was for 6 hours. After all the formalities, we got some swags and went to our desk.
After inauguration we went for a tea break and then started our hack. By the way we were the only one girls team. If I tell you the first problem which we faced you might laugh!! We were not able to connect each other on dialogflow , I asked my friend if we can ask someone and she didn’t want to ask as she felt shy. But asking for doubts is not a bad thing. So, I asked for help from the mentors and once that was done
The theme for this hackathon was AI in learning and teaching. So we came up with an idea of building a chat bot that will teach biology because we consider that to be a lame subject and if a bot could keep it interesting, it will bring an interest in learning! Now we had to train our bot to answer those questions.
While we were about to complete, but faced few problems. I had a different thought on working it out and my team mate had a different idea. Now this is what one needs to remember when at a hackathon.
- You feel like you have plenty of time.
- You realize that you have almost no time.
So instead of landing in a chaotic state, we tried out both the ways we thought of and landed in the right path.
Now we were out of time, we had connect our chat with telegram and we had no idea of how to implement it. We followed a YouTube tutorial. And yes, finally we did it!!
The 6 hour long hack, made us learn a lot and I was impressed with the patience one of our team mate who is a first year student.
During evaluation the judges gave good inputs and appreciated us. We expected to win but unfortunately we didn’t win. Although we were bit disappointed because the winning team and our team made a similar kind of chatbot, but theirs was far more superior comparing to our baby bot. But this was a very good experience and we learned a lot in a short span of time. At the end of the day we came out happily, saying that we made a chatbot. And that is a huge success for us!
So what did I learn by attending a hackathon??
I learned how to be creative and make best use of time. Apart from learning new technologies and implementing it, I met a lot of amazing people. What I am happy about is that what I thought I could never do in life weeks ago, I did in few hours time. So, keep a positive attitude, eagerness to learn, enjoy what you do! Code if fun! It’s not just for nerds alone!