Marist College Fall 2012 Hackathon

Nov. 18, 2012, 11:25 p.m.

This weekend was Marist College's semesterly hackathon. From 9:00pm on Nov 16th until 3:00pm today, the very ambitious group of computer science and ITS majors gathered in The Hancock Center to partake in arguably the most exciting event of the semester. The event was carefully put together by the board of the Computer Society and their planning did not go unnoticed this year. The turnout was greater than expected, and everyone involved was happy to be a part of it.

The challenge this semester was to create something that would enhance the lives of Marist students. My teammate Jason Parraga and I weighed various options before he brought up the idea of a ResNet tracking system to replace the archaic HDP system that is in place right now. This system is not user-friendly by any stretch of the imagination, and could be made to be much more useful. Additionally, it is a backend for the employees and management, but the reports that are generated could be used for the student's benefit, yet it is impossible to make these reports widely available. This thought process was the building blocks to our application.

Jason and I came to the conclusion that we wanted to make something as rapidly as possible and in an unfamiliar framework so we could learn something new simultaneously. We decided to build our app on Django for the server side backend and utilize Bootstrap to rapidly build our front-end with a responsive and aesthetically pleasing UI. These choices in technologies allowed us to be as productive as possible and served as a great learning experience for us.

Out of the available 42 hours for development, Jason and I were able to build everything we initially set out to make in just 15 hours of time. Although Hackathon-goers are renowned for thriving off of Red Bull and sleep deprivation, Jason and I decided that a sharp mind was more important than the thrill of watching the sunrise while coding. Many teams opted to spend all 42 hours in The Hancock Center awake and developing every minute they could, and I give them a huge round of applause for their dedication!

After the 42 hours for development were through, it was time for each team to present for a panel of Computer Science faculty. Every team put in a tremendous amount of effort, and the applications that the teams made are a clear indication of the enthusiasm that exists in the Computer Science department here at Marist College. From a completely redesigned registration system to a chicken patty SMS notifier to a clever registration helper, it was clear that the applications my peers made were carefully thought-out and well-executed.

After a period of deliberation an debate, the judges finally came to a decision. Based on a large set of judging criteria ranging from UI considerations, scalability considerations, usefulness and relevance to the topic, the judges decided who would be crowned as this semester's hackathon winner. Lo and behold, Jason and I were ecstatic upon hearing our names called for our ResNet Tracking System as the first place application for this hackathon.

All in all, it was a very exciting and rewarding weekend at the Marist College Fall 2012 Hackathon, and I am honored to be recognized for the application Jason and I developed. Regardless of where I placed, I know that it was a great opportunity to learn something new, and to develop a full application in a time crunch. I am anxiously awaiting next semester's even bigger and better hackathon!

Full source for our application is available on GitHub.

Short video of part of our presentation, courtesy of Anthony Barranco.

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