Apr 25, 2017
With a commitment to the ever-evolving “youth in tech” community, Genuine approached a student-run nonprofit hackathon to offer its Boston headquarters as a potential venue for their 2017 competition.
This past March, Genuine hosted HackBeanpot 2017, an intercollegiate hackathon featuring an immersive weekend-long workshop bringing together Boston’s up-and-coming developers to learn about new technologies and work intensively on software and design projects of their choice.
This year, participating hack teams of all skill levels had the chance to assemble at Genuine to show off their coding prowess and compete to create original projects incorporating APIs and services from companies such as Google, Amazon, IBM Watson, Spotify and Twitter.
HackBeanpot emphasizes creating a diverse event, uniting college students around New England to work and learn as a team all while harnessing their creativity to develop something truly original. The three-day event also featured a variety of presentations and hands-on workshops led by members of the region’s most prominent tech companies and start-ups. Additionally, each company provides a group of mentors to help teams navigate through the development process of their projects or provide a boost to give a product that final push through the proverbial finish line.
Winning projects, which were awarded prizes in various categories, were judged based on original coding and design skills that articulate clear use cases for each team’s final product.
Though most hackathons focus on specific themes or problems that need to be solved, with winners picked on how a project best solves a particular issue, HBP avoids this philosophy in favor of letting each team create their own projects. In addition, this year’s hackathon featured an added spotlight on “#InventTogether,” a phrase better known as Genuine’s mantra.
Here’s what went down.
Night One (The Kickoff):
It was late on a Friday evening at Genuine’s Boston HQ and Town Green was a livelier than usual as over 137 participants gathered in our office’s largest meeting area in anticipation for HackBeanpot 2017.
Night one of the three-day hackathon got underway with a kick-off ceremony presentation given by the HBP organizers to undergraduates from universities and colleges spanning the greater Boston area, New England and beyond.
As students continued to pile in, they were given the lay of the land of what was to come during the next 40 hours. It was easy to see the enthusiasm increase within each participant – you could feel it in the air.
Once the welcoming ceremonies concluded, it was time to go to work. Immediately, a crowd of the masses scattered frantically throughout the Genuine office searching for potential teammates and seeking a designated area to call home for the next three days.
As the action got underway, it was difficult to find an area not occupied by a hacking team. Some of the competing teams comprised college roommates and long-time friends, while others were a collection of total strangers all working toward a common goal. It was an astounding scene to take in.
Though some might think that a collection of that many college students – all under one roof – would tend be on the more boisterous end of the spectrum, HackBeanpot was actually the opposite. In fact, the silence was deafening as the participants worked feverishly until the early hours of Saturday morning to conclude the first part of the competition.
Day Two (The Long Haul):Genuine’s doors opened at 8AM to welcome returning – and new – participants for what was scheduled to be 17-hour day of hacking, presentations and workshops. Day two kicked off exactly where night one left off: project development. However, thanks to some of the event’s sponsors, participants were able carbo load on delicious donuts from Union Square and other breakfast treats from Panera.
For the next 17 hours, hacking teams were head’s down putting a full-fledged effort into creating a unique – and hopefully winning – project. Though there were scheduled time for breaks and meals, each team was devoted to completing their masterpiece to submit for judging on the final day of the event.
Aside from the hacking competition, a series of presentations by individuals within the local development, tech and startup industries were scheduled for day two. Each presentation and workshop was optional to attend, but each provided a wealth of information to the next generation of developers, coders and techies, which included navigating through “The Startup Jungle” by Robert Carr of SavingStar and “Inclusive Design” and “Goals for Success” by Genuine’s very own Drupal expert Mike Miles.
As the conclusion of day two stretched in the wee hours of Saturday night, hack teams lingered to give one final push to get their projects a step closer to completion.
Some of the teams leveraged HBP hacking mentors (including volunteers from Genuine) that were present to help navigate through any challenges or complexities a project might have faced.
Day Three (Fight to the Finish):
By the time Sunday morning rolled around there was a sense of urgency within the walls of Genuine. With the final round of judging kicking off at noon, teams were pressed for time to get their projects and presentations ready for review. Again, all teams heads down.
While this hackathon is supposed to be fun in nature, there were a series of projects that really wowed the audience…and a few that were just a little off the cuff. Either way, the competition did have six awards to present to the 10 finalists.
Here’s to the Winners:
Announcing the six winners from HackBeanpot 2017:
- Genuine’s #InventTogether Award: Birdsong – A Twitter bot that reads haikus using machine learning technology. It plays a musical arrangement to fit the mood of the text.
- Best Use of indico API: Spill.it – A party game using the Indico API to have your friends spill the tea
- Most Technically Challenging: SecureStash – A pill/liquor cabinet built to prevent teens from abusing their parent’s drugs. Uses facial recognition to authenticate users.
- Best Visual/UX/UI Design: CrowdDJ – Get nervous when DJing at a party? CrowdDJ uses the Spotify app and allows party-goers to send requests to the DJ, while creating a running playlist available for download once the party stops.
- Most Fun: EmojiScript – A modern, dynamically typed, state-of-the-art programming language that brings emojis to the playing field in language syntax.
- Least Likely to Make Money: Infinity Warp Drive – A solution to get infinite cloud storage for free.
To sum it up, HackBeanpot 2017 was a complete success. Hosting a bevy of college students with such drive and dedication toward creating something unique and original was a sight to behold. Witnessing total strangers work in unison – inventing together – was eerily reminiscent of what takes place with all of us who work at Genuine. Though the preparation that went into hosting one of the largest hackathons in New England was labor intensive, the hands of many volunteers made light work. And, in the end, it was all worth it.
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