My first Hackathon experienceby@vmadalin
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My first Hackathon experience

by Madalin ValceleanuJanuary 26th, 2019
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Discover my hacker experience during the 28 hours of the <a href="" target="_blank">HackatH2On 2017</a>. Although this event was a few years ago. I would like to share my experience and some details of how was organised this type of event.
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Discover my hacker experience during the 28 hours of the HackatH2On 2017. Although this event was a few years ago. I would like to share my experience and some details of how was organised this type of event.

The Agbar de las Aigües museum hosted 30 teams from two to six people during a weekend to work 28 consecutive hours at HackatH2On. The objective? Innovate in the relationship between citizens and water services. To get it, each team should overcome the challenge of thinking, developing and presenting a technological solution that would provide a good user experience, the promotion of the social value of water and new services to the Administration. Three prizes of €5,000, €3,000 and €2,000 were awaiting winners.

How do you face such a challenge? How do you get to the final proposal? How do you manage the time in this code marathon? We find out all the answers with the first-person experience of Madalin Valceleanu, Mobile Programmer Analyst and Opentrends hacker.

Time-lapse of event

Diary of a Hackathon by Madalin Valceleanu

With fellow developers of Opentrends, we had the initiative to participate in the HackatH2On 2017. I found it an interesting challenge and I accepted the proposal. Participating in these kinds of events puts our skills to the test. In addition, the competition offered me a threefold motivation: to offer solutions to problems of citizenship, to develop and to implement them.

I teamed up with the following Opentrends developers: David Torguet (iOS), Judith Gomez (Android), Marc Cabezas (Android) and Dani Martínez (iOS).

The members of our OTeam

We only had two working days to devise the HackatH2On project and the instructions were very clear: 28 hours to define a technological solution related to water services and citizenship. Oh! And at this time we also had to prepare a presentation in order to convince a jury.

The stopwatch started. The first step of the team was to decide the platform to present our project. We bet for chatbot. The reason? We were aware that this is a trendy technology and that gave us points. But, we also knew that we would not be the only ones to bet on this option.

The next challenge was to find an innovative technological solution that would offer new services to users in relation to water management.

We wanted to surprise with a disruptive project. Taking this in mind we decided to focus the ‘bot’ as a virtual assistant available 24 hours, with the aim of assuming the functions of the customer service department of Aigües de Barcelona. In this way, any type of incident (leaks, invoices, services, doubts, etc.) could be managed with a simple chat message, without needing to call or send an email. And best of all: handle it at any time and regardless of the day.

Working all together on squads

To develop the idea, we organized the team accordingly to the technological areas to be implemented: iOS, Android and chatbot. During the early hours, the pace was rather slow. So we decided to set deadlines to reach small goals. We would only meet if we detected some common problem that would not allow us to move forward.

One of the curiosities of the HackatH2On that caught my attention was the existing competitiveness, which increased with the passage of the hours. We even compete among the members of the team to reach the goals in the shortest possible time.

The night came. That point was the hardest part of the HackatH2On. Changing my usual schedule did not let me rest and this fact was a real psychological struggle against myself. Fortunately, coinciding with the sunrise, we managed to complete the project. We just had to prepare the presentation to complete the whole project.

The OTeam presents the DroppyBot in front of juries

After working for 28 hours it is hard to explain all your work in just 3 minutes. Without a doubt, a new challenge. After the 30 participating teams completed their presentations, we waited for deliberations …

Unfortunately, we were not the winners. Of course, I realised that the real competition had been against me: struggling against time, disorganisation and technological difficulties. And undoubtedly, I won this competition.

Without a doubt it is an unforgettable experience from all points of view. Something that I would recommend that everyone live it. Basically you put to the limit your resolutive capacity, analysis, solve problems, as well as your mind since with the passage of the hours the fatigue takes over, but the feeling of making a simple idea become a reality is the motor that will force us to continue.

Thank you for reading and time

V. Madalin