HackTownUSA: Frequently Asked Questions

HackTownUSA: Frequently Asked Questions

Oct 21, 2015. | By: Jeff Bayes

What’s a hackathon?

For our purposes, a hackathon is a gathering where developers collaboratively design, problem solve, and code in an extreme manner over a short period of time - in our case, for 26.2 hours. The idea is for each developer to have the ability and freedom to work on whatever they want, so long as it adheres to whatever constraints are provided by the event. More broadly, you may hear the term “hackathon” applied to any event of any duration where people come together to solve problems.

Are there teams? How are teams formed?

By all means, form a team! You can even come to the event with a team! If you have your own idea for something to make, and want to work with others to build it, we’ll have time for you to pitch your idea and win over other developers. If you’d rather work on someone else’s idea, that’s perfectly OK - even encouraged! We’d prefer it if teams were kept to a maximum size of 5 - beyond that and it’s hard to keep everyone busy with meaningful code work.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, check out this blog post by Mashape.

Is there any HackTownUSA swag? Prizes?

You bet! We’ll have T-shirts and stickers for everyone attending, as well as fun prizes for winners and to raffle off.

Did you say winners? What am I being judged on?

We’re bringing in some great judges for the event. Eric Wills will be representing the UO CIS faculty as a judge, and Joe Maruschak, the Chief Start-up Officer at RAIN Eugene, will be attending as well. We’ll also have Jeremy Klein, a recent UO CIS alumni, join the judging team. We’ll be judging to place in three categories: Most Commercially Viable, Best Use of Multiple APIs, and Brought the Most “Game.” From the winners of those categories, a Best Overall will be chosen.

26.2 hours? But what about food? Drinks?

Don’t worry! We’ve got great food lined up for you: lunch will be from Roaring Rapids Pizza Company, dinner from Noodle & Company, and we’ll have snacks and energy drinks to fuel you through the night.

Is it OK to go home and sleep?

Yes. However, there’s something special about working through the night with a group of friends toward a common goal - it’s an integral part of the hackathon experience. Nonetheless, we’ll be in Deschutes 100 all night so there’s no risk of being locked out.

What if I’ve never worked with an API?

Don’t sweat it! If you’re familiar with Python, we’ll have starter code for a few select APIs. If you have an API in mind that isn’t supported, we’ll have experienced devs around to help you get connected and continue building. Finally, not all programming here is going to be working directly with APIs; one person could wire up the connections, while another programs a cool way to manipulate the data you receive.

What kind of tech should I use?

Beginner teams: We recommend starting with stuff you’re comfortable with - for most of you, that’s Python. Build out from there; you can try Flask, a web micro-framework written in Python, or Tkinter for graphics. Think about what you need to express your idea and go from there!

Advanced teams: Use whatever you want. Just remember that if you use some oddball tech, there is little chance we’ll have someone who can help you.


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The UO Dev Club exists to expose students to cutting-edge software development tools, teach industry best practices, and bring in outside speakers to broaden perspectives on the future of the software industry. Our goal is to ensure all of our members are equipped to succeed in their first job and beyond.

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