It’s now 8am the Monday after WarwickHACK and I’ve offered (read: been persuaded by our Marketing Manager) to write a brief rundown of the event. Being a 24 hour event, I’ve not had a huge amount of beauty sleep so can only apologise in advance for what you’re about to read.
First off, it was a great event and Harry, Alex, Tim and the team did an amazing job of organising and running it. They managed to keep spirits high and morale going strong even in the early hours of the morning when all anyone wanted to do was find a comfy spot and hit the sack.
Sponsors, mentors and participants were all made to feel welcome and comfortable throughout the event with the help of plenty of food (5 free meals!!!), a tonne of red bull and a bunch of really cool workshops. Let’s face it though - we were all sold at the mention of free food!
As I mentioned, there were a number of workshops for all attendees and Black Pepper’s very own John Cooke led a workshop on the basics of AngularJS. The hope was that the teams could leave with the knowledge to easily create their own dynamic web apps to accompany their hacks and it was great to see a number of them do so.
There was also a workshop all about the psychology of design led by 1224design (@1224_Design) founder, Barney. It was extremely interesting and on a par with the kind of talks that you’d expect at a conference so big kudos to them!
The final workshop of the day was all about drones. There was a great turn out as you’d expect for such a cool topic and I expect I’ll soon be a few quid out of pocket after seeing some of the sweet drones that you can get.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be a proper hackathon without loads of free swag to get your hands on and WarwickHACK did not disappoint. Stickers, pens, t-shirts, power blocks, goody bags, it had the lot! The mandatory, unofficial t-shirt rivalry soon became apparent and despite the tough competition it was obvious (from a completely unbiased standpoint) that Black Pepper were the clear winners with our type-safe t-shirts Collection<Shirt<T>>.
As a sponsor of the event, Black Pepper got the exciting opportunity to set their own challenge, with the winners getting their hands on a bunch of Google Cardboards. We decided to set the teams the challenge of creating something with NFC tags or QR codes that would improve student life in some way. We were all really impressed with the ideas that everyone came up with and how far they managed to get in just 24 hours but we decided that the best of the lot was AutoLec. They created an app that let students scan NFC tags outside lecture theatres which would log their attendance, put their phone on silent and download the latest lecture notes to their device. The runners up were WarwickVision and AttendLog.
To check out all of the submissions from the event go to the WarwickHACK submissions page. One of the things that I found particularly rewarding was mentoring people who are only a few years younger than myself. Being 22 and having only discovered programming towards the end of my first year at uni, I actually had less experience than some of the people that I was helping out! Fortunately, a year in the industry has put me in good stead and I managed to tackle many of the problems that the teams were facing (or blag my way through them with the help of a particular search engine). I was massively impressed by the talent that I witnessed over the weekend and it was also great to see that people with little to no experience made an appearance too and managed to learn something new by the end of it. Finally, any write up of WarwickHACK would be incomplete without mentioning MLH (Major League Hacking: @MLHacks) who help to organise hackathons all over the UK and Europe. Their representative for this weekend was Tim who brought along a whole bunch of really cool hardware that teams could use to create their hacks including Oculus Rift, Pebble, Arduino, LEAP and loads more. It let everyone have a play with technologies that you wouldn’t necessarily get a chance to try out without a big budget which led to some great ideas. I now just want to say a huge well done to all the volunteers at WarwickTECH (@WarwickTECH) for organising the hackathon and taking the time out of their busy, student lives to run it. You all did a great job and we at Black Pepper look forward to next year! As I’m struggling to come up with a non-cliche summary without having slept properly first, I’ll sign off there and prepare for the tough Monday ahead before going home and having a much needed snooze!