Every one has heard about hackathons, this is especially true for a university full of engineering students. However, not many of us has actually experienced one before. I myself had never participated in one until just recently. Before this, I had the common misconception that a hackathon (hack+marathon) only involves coding for an entire day, which is why I never participated (because I am terrible when it comes to coding). In actual fact, not all hackathons are about coding, as the main aim of the event is problem solving. A prime example of such a hackathon is the CIMB 3D CONQUEST HACKATHON, whereby the 3Ds stand for the 3 different tracks:
- data wiz
Out of these three tracks, only one (digital) is focused on coding. My team, Moshi Moshi, participated in the Fintech (disruptive) track, whereby the main aim is to come out with a new interface or solution to the current world’s banking problems and limitations.
Usually, there are multiple stages to a hackathon. For the qualifiers, we went through a screening process whereby we submitted our ideas and solutions to the problems given to us. After this, we proceeded to the hackathon stage and competed against students and graduates from all over Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei to bring about a finalized idea within the span of one and a half days.
The first day was hectic, there were people all over the place, most people were in their designated areas working on their slides and presentation, some were in the common area getting as much feedback from the advisers as possible, and a few were just chilling outside or indulging in the unlimited snacks provided.
If I learned anything that day, it was that hackathons don’t need to be an overnight event, there were quite a number of teams that finished everything beforehand and were just loitering around. For certain hackathons, the problems to be solved are given prior to day of the hackathon, and participants have the liberty to prepare for it as much as they want to. This is certainly the go-to option if you value your precious sleep and wish to relax during the event. (Too bad I procrastinate too much). Also, another tip I have for y’all is to talk to the advisors as much as possible, these people are usually professionals who are experts in the field related to the hackathons. Not only will they be able to see gaps within your idea, they may also be able to add on to what you already have.
Of course, part of the hackathon experience is networking. (I mean, you are basically stuck with everyone in the same area for the entirety of the event). Even though everyone was busy perfecting their prototype and bringing their ideas to life throughout the event, we still managed to mingle around and meet new friends along the way.
Of course, working hours without sleep and presenting in front of a panel of professionals must sound nerve-wrecking to most of you. But this is definitely an experience that I will never forget. Though my team didn’t make it into the top 5 finalist, we are pumped and ready for the next hackathon. Cheers to more experiences like these!