12-hour Hackathon encourages college coders’ creativity

The Hackathon allows students to become more confident in their coding abilities and create unique projects that impact current and future Baylor students. Grace Everett | Photographer

By Stephy Mahoney | Staff Writer

Students competed this past weekend in the Baylor Hackathon — a competition consisting of 12 hours of coding, showing individual expertise and involvement in the craft to win an Amazon gift card.

Vice President of Commuting for Compassion Michael Tinker said this year’s Hackathon projects focused on sustainability, public safety and disaster relief.

Tinker said his team had two division brackets: novice and intermediate. He said they do this to encourage all students to feel comfortable while competing, including those who aren’t as confident in their coding abilities.

“The goal of the project was to educate a young audience on the importance of sustainable energy economic developments,” Tinker said.

Throughout the competition there were a wide range of exciting projects, but Tinker said he found one particularly striking.

The project dealt with data from a game simulation that assumed the role of a city manager growing a city by managing resources and increasing sustainable energy infrastructure. The project won first place in the novice category.

“We had 27 competitors this year, which was a nice increase from last year,” Tinker said. “The last years after COVID-19 have been a little difficult. That’s been a common element in a lot of student organizations that I’ve been a part of.”

Tinker said organizers changed the Hackathon to last up to 12 hours this year, instead of the originally planned 14 hours. Throughout that time, participants focus on coding, including research, making a PowerPoint, giving a presentation explaining what technologies each used and how it fits into one of the prompts and showing a prototype to the judges.

“There are five judges and four compassion officers, and our advisor Dr. William Booth, who is in the computer science department,” Tinker said.

The judging criteria is broken into five categories: impact, innovation and creativity, sustainability, design and completeness of solution.

Tinker said participants are asked where they hope they could take this presentation in the future if they had more time, and said each presentation holds promise for the future innovators of Baylor.

Adam Abid, Houston junior and public relations and marketing secretary officer, said he believes this year was a success because of the length of time they held the competition for. He said making the event 12 hours long allowed for more people to come and collaborate with different ideas and understand perspectives.

“This was my first ever Hackathon,” Abid said. “Everything was a pretty unique experience from making the flyers, to getting sponsors and talking to people in classes and telling them about the event.”

Abid also said getting to be a part of the judging process was a rewarding experience. He said he was able to analyze the prototypes and evaluate everyone’s “really good ideas” in the competition.

Tinker said each contestant worked diligently on their project and should be proud of the work they put in. The experience bracket winners in order from first to third place teams were: JARN, Pupub and Uquest; novice bracket winners were teams: Roblox City Manager, H2O and Uber-gency.

“JARN was really interesting because they had a full working website and prototype, and that was something I could see myself using in the future,” Abid said.