A Hackathon for Everyone
Hackathons continue to pick up steam.
The Oxford online dictionary describes a hackathon as, “An event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.”
Sounds prim and proper, but as any hackathon attendee can attest to, it’s a mind-numbing blend of trial and error coding mixed with junk food and energy drinks. The big payoff, of course, is a website, desktop operating system, robot, or mobile application that people can’t live without (i.e. the Facebook “Like” button).
As noted in the article The Secret Lives of Hackathon Junkies “People who haven’t participated in hackathons talk about them as hotbeds of innovation, as the kinds of places where great thinkers come together and dream up exciting new ideas… In reality, a hackathon is a sporting and social event. It’s like a regatta for nerds. Hackathons also serve as outrageously complex recruiting events. Venture capitalists and head-hunters for top tech firms haunt hackathons in order to spot and poach talent.”
The best teams include diverse talent pools of engineers, designers, and strategists. These individuals give up entire weekends (fueled by caffeine and passion) to forge new answers to questions. In a world that over-thinks problems, 48-72 sleepless hours of creative frenzy is seen to produce intuitive solutions.
Hackathons cover a multitude of genres. From video game and music software development to improvements in the areas of science and government, people are coming together to transition their ideas into products and services. It’s about finding a technological solution to a need or problem.
Does this pertain to the manufacturing industry? You bet!
Australia’s Hackagong, created in 2012, started with “the goal of bringing together the physically segregated arts and IT students at the University of Wollongong.” The following year, it highlighted a 3D printing competition.
Sigh, innovation in a modern world.
It’s no surprise that companies and educational institutions are using the hackathon concept to their advantage. During the DMC three-day hackathon event, relative to “real-world manufacturing floor issues,” participants are provided six months of machine tool data in which to predict part failure, vet out energy-saving processes, and integrate optimal performance. The event dives deeper into advanced solutions to manufacturing issues and operations.
Whether you view hackathons as a way for teams of the brightest minds to potentially improve life as we know it or as a way for companies to get free developer time in off-hours, hackathons will continue to draw the creative and technologically savvy Millennials.
Why? Because it’s fun.
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