Behind nwHacks 2019

The numbers, hackers, and experiences that define Western Canada’s largest hackathon

Jan 30 · 6 min read

nwHacks 2019, our 5th anniversary and biggest turnout thus far! On January 26–27, 2019, hosted Western Canada’s largest hackathon.

Numbers behind nwHacks 2019

Facts ✨

People 💖


I’ve organized a 24-hour event before, but never for 700+ people — my nwHacks 2019 experience was filled with nothing but positivity; lovely people, hilarious antics, and amazing ideas. — Karina Kwok, nwLogistics Coordinator

Let’s focus on you, the hackers 👩‍💻 👨‍💻

The people behind this year’s projects:

  • 33% first time hackers — wow, we surpassed our initial target of 20%!
  • 57 different majors including 27% engineering, 62% computer science, 4% sciences, 7% majors such as business, kinesiology, and visual arts!
  • 70% UBC, 11% SFU, 3% UW Notable universities: University of Melbourne, McGill University, UC Santa Cruz, University of New Brunswick, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Western University, New York University
  • 90% from the Lower Mainland Notable locations: New York City, California, Seattle, Kelowna, Toronto, Calgary, Montreal
  • 675 from Canada 🍁, 32 from the USA 🇺🇸
Thanks for coming, everyone!

Let’s relive the weekend!

It’s not all about the numbers. It’s about the prototyping and learning process. It’s about the a-ha moments in the middle of the night. It’s about the hacker experience.

Every little decision we made really was for the hackers. From creating the Women in Tech speed mentoring session to deciding whether to move lunch 30 minutes earlier or later, everything was based on what would give hackers the best experience and I felt that it really aligned with our club’s mission to foster an inclusive hacker community here at UBC. — Anita Tse, nwLogistics Director

Here we go, Saturday, January 26, 2019 ☀️

After setting up bright and early, we had 10:00am check-in. ☕ Hackers knew where they needed to go next — straight to the sponsor booths 💖 for the plushies, the sugar fuel, the connections!

12:00pm Opening ceremonies in the AMS Nest brought out Hootsuite Engineering, , , and to pump up hackers and introduce the many resources available for their projects!

One notable “dream” of mine was the opening ceremony venue — WOOD 2 was actually slated to be our opening ceremony venue since the summer of 2018 but 11 days before the event, we were notified that WOOD 2 was no longer available due to unexpected building repairs. After a series of frantic searching for alternatives at UBC, the AMS nest was chosen. This was actually one of my dream venues when we started planning in May, and that dream came true in the form of a last minute venue change ✨ — Anita Tse, nwLogistics Director

The return to our main building marked 1:00pm hacking begins concurrently with banh mis for lunch from . 🥖

Knowledge was shared through 6 workshops 🛠️to build, learn, and share:

After 7:00pm dinner 🥡 from , hackers dove into their projects. To keep them going, they were fueled by s’mores, cake, pizza, instant noodles, and more Red Bull!

Good morning, Sunday, January 27th, 2019☀️

We kicked off the new day with 8:00am breakfast from . Global News BC 🎤 brought more energy to these early hours when they came for a live interview featuring our nw+ Marketing Director, Lauren, and one of our hackers, Jimmy Huang.

Mentors and sponsors were kept busy with 10:00am women in tech speed mentoring and a 11:30am professionals networking session. 👔

One thing I really wanted to see was more support for people from underrepresented groups, because the tech space is currently not as diverse as it could be. The nwHacks team worked really hard to be inclusive this year, from converting bathrooms to having a space for pronouns on name tags, and I think that went smoothly! Secondly, I got the amazing opportunity to run a speed-mentoring workshop for women and other gender minorities, and I was elated to see the support we got from sponsors and mentors. Tech is for everyone and I’m so proud of the team for supporting that! — Joice Tang nwLogistics Coordinator

With hackers sprinting towards the 1:00pm project submission deadline, many waited until then to enjoy their lunch from . 🌯

Check out all of the projects on Devpost:

2:30pm Demos saw 132 projects displayed as hackers explored the different projects, mentors continued to be inspired by the results, and judges floated around the expo.

At the 5:15pm Closing ceremonies 🎉, we recognized 16 different projects!

  • 1st Place
  • 2nd Place
  • 3rd Place
  • Top 4 & 5 Placings &
  • Popular Vote —
  • Standard Library: “Best/most creative use of Standard Library” —
  • Microsoft: “Azure Prize Champ” —
  • Hootsuite: “Hack that Best Champions the Power of Human Connection” — &
  • RBC: “Best hack using voice biometrics and conversational design” —
  • Telus: “Best use of IoT and/or AI to help foster sustainable cities” —
  • “Best Home Buying Experience” —
  • Google: “Most Innovative Project” —
  • .TECH: “Best hack/website on .TECH domain —
  • Best Use of Google Cloud Platform —
  • Best Domain Name from — ()
  • Best IoT Hack Using a Qualcomm Device —
  • Snap Kit Prize —

When I first volunteered at nwHacks 2016, I never expected it to take over my entire university career in the way it has. I’ve been impressed time and time again by all of my teams and the amount of thought and passion they’ve put into planning each year’s event. To see nwHacks veterans develop their skills over the years, and to see first-time hackers flourish in just the span of 24 hours is something incredibly special. This year was the largest nwHacks we’ve ever put on with more than 700 hackers, and it’s been an honour to be a first hand witness to the growth of the hacking community in Vancouver. We had a few hiccups here and there, but in the end nwHacks 2019 has been the best year yet and I can’t wait to see what happens with the event next! — Zoe Fox, President

Huge shoutout to all the bright hackers that came out this weekend to help make nwHacks 2019 such a success.

On behalf of our entire nwPlus organizing team, thank you to all our sponsors, mentors, judges, and volunteers who dedicated their weekend to help make this year’s nwHacks the largest we have ever had, with just over 700+ registered hackers and 132 project submissions.

See you again next year! 👋

nwHacks 2019 by , Words by

— Western Canada’s largest hackathon hosted by nwPlus. Stay in touch: | |

nwPlus UBC

Behind the scenes of nwHacks — Western Canada's largest hackathon, UBC Local Hack Day — NA’s Largest LHD 2018, and cmd-f — Vancouver’s first all female* hackathon at the University of British Columbia.


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We’re the club you love behind nwHacks, Western Canada’s largest hackathon & UBC Local Hack Day — NA’s Largest LHD 2018. ✨ Follow us @nwPlusUBC everywhere! 👋

nwPlus UBC

Behind the scenes of nwHacks — Western Canada's largest hackathon, UBC Local Hack Day — NA’s Largest LHD 2018, and cmd-f — Vancouver’s first all female* hackathon at the University of British Columbia.