Pandelis Zembashis, a Computer Science student at Birmingham City University, shares his experience at BCU Hack.

On Monday 29 February, as part of the department’s employability week, the University put on its first ever 24 hour hackathon. Starting from 10 am the hackspace started filling up with a mixture of Computer Science, Visual Communication and Game Development students, among other disciplines. The mixture made for a very energetic and creative vibe throughout the event.

It was great to see everyone working together and helping each other solve problems and learn new technologies in order to get their idea across. There were two main platform sponsors, Majestic and Codio who each provided an API to code with and a shared development environment to develop in, respectively.

RobotMost of the students who took part in the full event were so enthusiastic by the end that they instantly signed up for another hackathon and are now hooked on the hackathon format. Something I’m particularly excited for as I am always a strong advocate for more hackathon participation; as it is provides a great platform to meet new people interested in the same things as you and instantly boosts your portfolio.

The range of skills and projects created was also great to see. There were websites, web apps, an iPhone and Apple watch app, games and even a Raspberry Pi hack. I was particularly impressed by the games students who put together the rock climbing simulator using a Leap Motion controller mounted to the front of an Oculus Rift! Mounting the Leap Motion to the front of the Oculus like that completely alleviates the need for a physical controller and completely immerses the user into the simulation, an absolutely ingenious solution.

My hack

Pandelis ZembashisMy team fully embraced hacker mentality and tackled everything at once. We had a messy live demo with wires flying every which way out of my laptop showing off an iPhone app, a watch app and even a hardware hack on a Raspberry Pi. We managed to secure third place overall and took home the Urbanhax award which includes a year’s membership to the hackerspace (so excited for that).

Final thoughts

The hackathon was amazing! The atmosphere was great and energetic throughout the night. Everyone was super helpful to each other and there was a real community atmosphere. I feel like many of the participants left with new skills and a fresh appreciation for hackathons. BCU hack 2.0 should be amazing.

Interested in Computer Science? Find out more about the courses on offer at the School of Computing and Digital Technology.

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