It’s been a while since I blogged for the last time, so here goes – an article to write down my thoughts, after the successful HackFMI 2.0.
Also, as a disclaimer, I will try not to leave my blog empty for months!
After the first hackathon we did, one thing was clear – HackFMI should become a tradition, taking place each semester, until the end of time!
And in order to make this happen, we pulled of HackFMI 2.0 – the second hackathon for this year, in the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics.
HackFMI 2.0 took place on 25th, 26th and 27th of October, again, in the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics.
For the second hackathon, we decided to ask the students, what they want to code by creating a simple google docs poll.
The answers included topics like Hack for FMI, Hack for Education, Game Dev Hackathon, Startup Hachathon and many others.
Asking the students turned out to be a great idea, because people started suggesting topics and giving arguments why it would be cool, to have such a theme for HackFMI 2.0.
In the end, we decided to go with two, instead of just one topic. The poll results can be found here.
One thing that we are going to do again, for the next hackathon is, to ask the students, what the theme should be.
Hack for FMI, Hack for Education
With what software and hardware solutions can we come up with, in order to change the environment in the University and in the entire educational system ?
Hack for FMI was the topic from the first hackathon, but Hack for Education came out as a winner from the poll. And since everyone are talking about “What should we do about education in Bulgaria ?”, we decided to give it a try and see how it’s going to turn out.
With two different topics, we have two different sets of winners (Which you can read about here [In Bulgarian])
From organizational point of view, having two different topics (and two different sets of winners) was a bit of a nightmare. The entire hackathon lost some of its focus.
In the end, it was worth it, because the solutions in Hack for Education were outstanding!
The team who won, created an online judge system, for programming contests, that addresses all the weaknesses of other judge systems – scalability, not crashing when everyone submits in the end, easy to install (Just a script) and supports virtual contests. You can basically run your programming interviews with that system.
The second team created a mobile game, that helps little children learn English – the app receives in realtime a word, speaks it (Via text 2 speech) and the child should write the word correctly back to the phone.
The entire game supports web application too, where you can enter an entire paragraph of english text, and have it dictated to you (At a regulated speed) and after you submit the text back, you get a detailed diff (Up to a character) where you did wrong.
The third team created an entire platform for classroom gamification, where every child has a skill tree of spells and can use different spells during the class.
The teacher has a tablet, where he can see what kind of spells are being casted and by who.
The entire process of studying turns into a game, close to what kids play nowadays – Leauge of Legends, Dota, etc.
Magic School – the third place idea
For the next hackathon, I think we are going to return to one topic only, in order to retain the focus. And if there are many interesting topics, HackFMI will increase it’s frequency.
Open for High Schools from Sofia
HackFMI 2.0 was open not only for students from FMI, but for students from other Universities and High Schools.
This was one of the best decisions we made, because we had visitors from ELSYS, NPMG and SMG (which are one of the best high schools in Sofia)
Especially for the pupils, this was new experience, and all of them enjoyed it!
The youngest participants were 9 graders from ELSYS, and they even won two prizes, from Komfo and Astea Solutions 🙂
For the next hackathon we are sure – it’s going to be targeted even more for pupils, because they enjoy it, learn a lot and make new connections that are hard to get, inside your school.
This time, we had even better list of mentors to help the teams during the second day of the hackathon.
The one thing, that we received a lot as a feedback, and it became clear is the following – start with mentorship from day 1 and do not wait for the second day, afternoon.
The reason is simple – if the mentorship happens on the second day, most of the teams have already committed a lot of code and have made their decisions about technologies, platforms and libraries.
A quick advice with the mentors in the beginning can point them in the right direction and commit all the time, doing the right thing the right way.
So, for the next hackathon, we are going to start with mentors right after the teams have formed. And of course, continue with the mentors the day after.
Presenting from one laptop
During the presentations, we had a major problem with the beamer. It was working with some laptops and not working with others.
The way we proceed with presentations is that each team comes with their laptop, plug-in a VGA cable and start doing their demo.
There was a problem with the cable and Windows – on some laptops, the screen was constantly changing resolutions, trying to “find the optimal one”. This resulted in screen flickering every 30 seconds and it killed the entire demo for the team.
Right now, we are thinking for a solution to that problem, and the thing that makes the most sense is – deploy every web app, to be visible in a local network during the presentations.
Present from one laptop, that actually works.
This will reduce the chance of a laptop, that will go crazy with finding the optimal resolution.
Sadly, thanks to the beamer problem, we finished the entire event 1 hour after midnight 😀
Becoming a Tradition
So, the thing we have to do right now is to reflect on the given feedback, clear all problems and do an even better HackFMI 3.0
Until then, we have to constantly remind that HackFMI is out there, pending and waiting for the time to come.
That’s why we introduced a regular event, called HackFMI Talks – Twice a month, students or developers from the companies in our ecosystem, talk about interesting topics, related to programming, software, creating organizations, managing and so on.
We actually managed to do the first two talks (videos available, follow the links):
Expect even more
So that’s about it. The HackFMI team will do everything we can, to transform our Faculty, into a world-leading place, where you can study Programming, Software Engineering and Computer Science, like nowhere else.
Expect more 🙂