I’ve been involved in running a Hackathon over the last week or so. I’ve never done anything like it before, but it was a really positive experience that allowed University students to learn new technologies and then use them to build working software using Agile methodology. I was very familiar with some of the technologies used, and fairly familiar with working in an Agile fashion, but despite all that I still think I learned a few things over the week.
At the start of the event I explored the word Hackathon, and noted that it was a portmanteau of “hack” and “marathon”. I challenged people to track their walking/running over the 5 days to see if they managed the same length as a modern marathon. I hit my target on Friday morning, and a few other people involved had also walked their marathon by the end of the event. Running a marathon is regarded as being quite hard (a bit like developing an application using unfamiliar technologies), but I think this event proved that seemingly impossible things can be achieved with the right attitude, and utilisation of tools and methodologies that automate and streamline things as much as possible. I also suspect this event proved that sleep is optional, and that coffee and pizza are suitable fuel for a week of development, but I tried very hard to be sensible in that respect.
All seven teams produced applications that worked, and some of them were really impressive. I feel very proud to have been involved in this event, and also very proud of every single student who took part. They were a credit to the University and I hope to work with as many of them as possible at some point in the future.