I’ll be going to my first 12 hour Hackathon – NGI: Next Great Innovator Hackathon by RBC 2018 – Women in Tech this weekend at the MaRS Discovery District. I’m terrified but excited!
Why did I apply to this Hackathon if I’m not in Computer Science or Engineering?
I was sent an email to apply for this Hackathon through Piazza, a platform that some U of T courses use as a discussion board. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of the word ‘Hackathon’ is technology, programming and people that are either half-asleep or buzzed up on caffeine in pursuit of making their A-ha! ideas into reality (or virtual reality).
What do I expect from a Hackathon?
I’ll be working with four other students from Western University, Sheridan College, a grade 11 student and another who has yet to e-introduce herself. Initially, I felt a bit intimidated because I’m probably the least proficient coder of the group. After researching what actually goes down at Hackathons, I’ve realized that coding is only one component of them. Similar to Open Source Software, hackathon teams need people of diverse backgrounds to contribute code, documentation, research, outreach, quality assurance and design. Although Hackathons are generally building something from the ground up over 12-24 hours, some ideas need to incubate for awhile. As a U of T student I have the option to continually cultivate those ideas here on campus through clubs, societies and the Hatchery.
The Hatchery at U of T
About 2 weeks ago, I went for the Hatchery‘s Speaker Series – a weekly meeting that brings entrepreneurs in STEM and business on campus to share their experiences and inspire students. By attending this talk, my preconceived notion that the Hatchery was only open to engineering or computer science students, was corrected. I secretly also went for the free pizza (the quest for free food and t-shirts continues).
I’ve been contributing to an Open Source company for about five years now. Again, I mainly participate for the free Google t-shirt but more importantly, being part of this cyber community has helped me realize how Open Source Software, Hackathons and everyday life at U of T share a common backbone – team work and the willingness to learn from others outside your own field.
I’ve learned so much from the friends I’ve made so far at U of T from living on residence, my classes, my research course, my job as a blogger and the people I’ve met at volunteer opportunities on campus and I can’t wait to meet and learn from other students at this intercollegiate Hackathon!