BT Hack Day

When people think of Computer Science students, they always expect us to be sitting in front of a computer screen, sipping some Red Bull and eating loads of pizza. On an average day, this opinion isn’t right; but this time they did get it right. Every year, the School Of Computing, the Computing Society or usually both host a hackathon.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a hackathon is a competition where you’re given a challenge/statement (either as an individual or a team) and you’re required to make a product that fulfils the mission of this challenge.

This year, BT (British Telecom) and the Computing Society (CompSoc) have hosted an 8-hour hackathon together on Saturday the 2nd of November. They started the event with an introductory lecture for the rules of the hackathon, the challenge statement and start the countdown for the presentations. This year’s challenge statement was “Use the power of communication to make the world a better place”, and from there people got creative. The key to the hackathon is to focus more on building the concept, where having a more thought out concept with an incomplete product is better than having an idea that has merely scraped the challenge with a complete product.

Also, Products can take whichever form you might like to use. You can go for an app, a website, or maybe even purely just a PowerPoint slideshow explaining what your product might look like, as long as it serves the purpose.

After the lecture, everybody started brainstorming and coding away, until it was PIZZA TIME! As always, lunch was provided at the hackathon, where BT provided the hackers with towers of pizza, because a stomach full of pizza means an efficient programmer (We love pizza).

After lunch time, everybody got their hack on once more, and near the end of the hackathon started polishing their products and creating the slideshow for the presentations.

Presentations aren’t usually long; each team had 2 minutes to prepare, and 3 minutes for the presentation itself.

The EmotiChat team came in second place, where they made an instant messaging app that senses your emotions based on your facial expression and would try and stop you from sending messages you may regret sending later on when in a better mood. And in first place, Walking Blind won the competition by creating an app to help blind people find points of interest around them using their geolocation, and as you walk it announces the ones near you and leads you towards it.

After that, prizes were distributed, a farewell speech was given and BT got to talk about some of their internship and graduate opportunities being available for students to apply for, and CompSoc got to talk about their social events. Overall, it was a really great experience for students, since they were from all years of study and got to be in a competitive atmosphere and make such amazing products in the least given time.