HackBU 2023: Post-hackathon updates
Hi all! I have some updates to share about HackBU 2023 pertaining to winners, reimbursements, and plans for next year.
I would like to start off with an important announcement about our hackathon winners: After our event ended, we found that one of our selected winning projects violated our rules by reusing a significant amount of code created before the hackathon. Having clarified this with the original authors, we would like to congratulate a couple of new winners!
Firstly, our new winner for Best Newbie Hack is DineTunes! by Nicholas Solar, Bryan Perez, Luke Sypniewski, and David Lovejoy! DineTunes! is a website designed to make dining halls more engaging for students by providing an interface for users to like and dislike songs.
Next, our new winner for Best Design (UI) is Valenteer by Vivian Huynh, Winnie Yong, Haohua Zeng, and Sara Wu! Valenteer is a service for discovering local volunteer opportunities, and matching you up with like-minded individuals to build connections with. It supports finding other users who go to the same events as you, and inputting your interests to get better matches.
With this finalized, we will now be able to distribute our prizes; winners can expect to hear from us some time in the next week.
You can now finally apply for travel reimbursements using this Google Form. The fund is primarily intended for teams who used Uber or Lyft to get to the ITC from off-campus, but we will accept also requests for travelling non-BU teams and see what we can do.
Once you fill out the form, we will get back to you within the next couple of weeks. We intend to close the form on Monday, March 27th, but you should get your request in ASAP, especially since they are first-come-first-serve.
Reflections and plans
With those announcements out of the way, let’s talk about the hackathon some more :)
We have published photos from the event at https://hackbu.org/photos/hackbu2023/, both including photos from the University Photographer, as well as from our own team.
That’s not all, though! In addition to our Twitter and Instagram accounts, we now have a TikTok at @hackbinghamton! We have some great short-form content from the hackathon in the works; you will want to follow us so you don’t miss it! https://www.tiktok.com/@hackbinghamton
Myself, I am over the moon with how the event itself went. It took a lot of work to get this event running in-person again, and there were certainly a lot of time crunches. We’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into one-time investments which will serve us will in the future, such as:
- This blog! If you’re reading this far down, seems like it’s working a little bit :D
- The ITC map - this was my pet project for a few weeks; this was drawn from scratch in Inkscape. I started by tracing over the building, and then drawing in the specific rooms.
- The hackathon schedule. Past hackathon years have had a schedule on the site, but 2022 needed to have support added.
- Our resume-book building tools, for our sponsors. Who doesn’t like an excuse to do some shell scripting ;)
- The photo album page you see just above (look, no jQuery!)
We also tried some new things this year, during the hackathon:
- We ran an OCCT shuttle back and forth, which seems to have been helpful.
- We ran workshops on Python, web development, and Git during the hackathon. These workshops were generally well received, but in the future we will refrain from delivering them in what are otherwise “hacking rooms”.
But, you likely already know about those. Let’s talk improvement!
- By far, our biggest commitment for next year will be improving the judging process. We will be pursuing the following major improvements:
- Make the open expo feel more organic. We will spread the tables apart more (spilling out of the rotunda), so that teams have room to breathe.
- Investigate a better way to distribute and record scores. We are aware that some teams were visited much more than others; this was caused partially by not having enough judges, but also not having an infrastructure to easily distribute tasks.
- Overall, we should be able to more quickly deliver updates now that our team has this experience under our belts, and we can more accurately determine how much time we need for different stages of hackathon planning.
- We will expand our mentor match program by increasing outreach to our alumni. We didn’t have much bandwidth for this, this year, but I will make sure that we have ample resources allocated to this next time.
- We will consider changes to times and places where they make more sense; for instance, we will likely move the team-building session to take place right after opening ceremony so that nobody has to wait around.
As you can see, we have a lot of work ahead of us! Thanks to all of you who attend our events, though, it is whole-heartedly worth it. If you appreciate what we do and are interested in joining our team, stay tuned for organizer applications later this semester :)