Running a Hackathon in lockdown – with Carmen Faura Praxedes
Hackathons can form an important part of a computer science student’s life at The University of Manchester. They are large scale social events which allow students to flex their coding muscles. Lockdown may have cancelled many such events, but our students weren’t about to let that get in the way. We spoke to Carmen Faura Praxedes, a 2nd year Software Engineering student, to talk about their first online hackathon, StudentHack 2020.
Hello Carmen! Can you tell us more about what StudentHack is?
StudentHack is one of our yearly traditional student hackathons held in Manchester. A hackathon is almost like a marathon in which student scientists compete and collaborate to create software or hardware projects in an attempt to win challenges and the all important prizes! It is typically a 24 hour in-person event, but given the unprecedented circumstances we are living in, we couldn’t go ahead with it. At least, not that way. Instead of cancelling, we decided to move it online and keep the tradition and the hackathon spirit alive. This also meant we could take the hackathon global and we had participants from all across the world. Not just computer scientists either, but physicists and engineers too.
This year we went retro-themed, so we started off with a retro opening ceremony which our entertainment team put together. It was a great way to kick off and set the mood for the upcoming 24 hours and give our 68 actively participating teams a taste of what was yet to come.
That’s amazing, how did you handle the online experience?
Our tech team set up a Discord server to ensure the participating hackers were connected and enjoying the traditional hackathon experience. They connected this to our hub, which automatically created a channel for each joining team with all of their team members, use various bots we had put in place, and access our workshops and online zen room. This really helped keep the hackathon going.
What sort of projects were created?
Within 24 hours our hackers built all sorts of creative and amazing websites, apps, games and robots which tied in with our challenge themes: Hardware, Health, Game, and Retro. We had a winner for each of these as well as an overall top 3 which have been announced and their projects can be seen on our devpost. All of our attendees submissions are there too, so feel free to have a look around.
And of course, we could not let our attendees miss out on our goodie bags. Our graphics team put together some outstanding stickers and t-shirt designs which we are getting made and sent out to all our attendees, mentors and our great organising team.
Where can we find out more about future events?
To stay updated with our future hackathons, find us on social media!