Daily Post 1367


Hackathons are supposed to be one odd technical event, unconnected to the world, students turning out in hordes, to sharpen their coding skills and getting recognition, used for getting jobs or for getting admitted to premier educational institutions. It has a nerdy environment that itself gives the kick of being on the top of the world. The less brighter go there to participate and be a part of unfolding fun and frolic for two days at a stretch. Very rarely the world knows the reason for what these events are held and how do they fit into the tech scheme of things – of creativity and innovation and solving real world problems.

Problem statements are at the core of it. Neatly stated, explained and mentored can do wonders to the energy and success that is finally driven in this exercise. In simple terms, Hackathon is Exploratory Coding. A real novel way of finding solutions and talent. The solution finders are the most talented technologists. Understanding, a problem of some other domain, on a given platform, finding workable coding solution on terms and the validation asked for, in a span of 36 to 48 hours is no small joke. Notwithstanding the fact that at best, the final product is a prototype, it has the capability to be made into a product one day. The collaborative technical energy that is generated over the endless hours have to seen to be believed. In a physical Hackathon the action is palpable even when everything happens in silence.

Everything has a life cycle and so is the case of a Hackthon. That our great technologists have not been able to decipher it so far, is a different story. If we start from the idea / expertise to product and beyond, the life cycle can broadly be divided into a few key phases. It would start with the coding expertise grading based on Hacker Earth type coding competition. Some knowledge of domain would certainly help. Then the mentor, the subject matter expert who frames the problem and gives a cogent, workable explanation of it and what he intents to get as a solution. The cleared coders would then enter the contest depending on their inclination and submit the synopsis of the solution besides other details. IEEE type team expertise would be required to do the Online Pre-selection. The finalists emerge. The War Horses then arrive at the physical venue. Formalities apart, the problem mentoring is done and so is the technical mentoring and all participants are made fully conversant with the Hackathon process.

Time just flies and the teams go through three rounds of subject and tech evaluation, finally converging into one prototype. Best of the college’s teams in just one hall, battling it out for the final honours. Codes uploaded, validated and tested and the final ten are arrived at. Then based teams solutions – code strength, the presentation and the utility, the IEEE judges take the final call, individually and then collate the final marks deciding the three winners. The code becomes the property of the organiser / owner. The prototype has be tested again for code validity and also for security. A business plan for transforming this prototype into a product has to be created and executed. Commercialising can happen in the next stage. If one product is finally created out of one Hackathon, India’s transformation into a land of creativity and innovation is imminent.


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