First Company Hackathon

05 Oct 2018

Last week, I partook in my orgnization’s Hackathon. The problem statement revolved around improving data quality. It was rather tough, but definitely a rewarding experience because we got 2nd place/~10 teams. This was my 3rd hackathon, and I was quite surprised and pleased with the results.

Good Points:

  1. I liked the problem statement. It was definitely relevant, and was a problem where if a group presented a good potential solution, there is some semblance of it being brought to life.
  2. Environment setup was good. Each time had EC2 instances and an RDS server. My only gripe with this is that configuration is still too tough to get everything working. But that is the nature of our business - one mispelling or configuration error, and the whole thing goes kaboom!
  3. Our idea, and slide decks were on point. We pretty much had a top slide deck, and a very useful/practical idea that provided benefit to business. This reminded me of a critical law I learned in school: Akin’s law of Spacecraft Design(https://spacecraft.ssl.umd.edu/akins_laws.html)

    20. A bad design with a good presentation is doomed eventually. A good design with a bad presentation is doomed immediately.

Bad Points:

  1. Presentations were too long. We had 10 minutes for the demo, but with 10 minutes + transition times + teams going over, it was more like 2 hours. Personally, I’m a little desensitized to slide decks. I want to know what the teams have created. What would be nice is to have the team just make a video over the weekend and submit it to the judges. The video would cut out all the transitions, and crystalize and condense the information into a perfect, shiny crystal
  2. As a team, we spent too much time debating on what to present and what to do. I think most of that time is wasteful - in a hackathon, there really isn’t any time to build out anything fully fleshed out. I wished that we focused on a minimum, minimum viable product, and moved forward. Nothing fancy(well maybe the front end) going on in the back - just some working prototype to show what the workflow would look like.

Overall, it was a pretty good experience. I had some fun, and I’d definitely do it again. But with some tweaks =/.