How To Win a Hackathon
I just got back from Hoya Hacks, a hackathon a Georgetown this past weekend. Someone asked me by email what tips I had to win hackathons (since I have won multiple prizes :), and I responded:
- Incorporate some hardware, such as Raspberry Pi or Arduino. Hoya Hacks didnt have a prize for best hardware, but some do and either way, hardware usually makes your project stand out.
- I like to bring my own hardware because the MLH hardware lab sometimes doesn't have a great selection, or they run out. If you come to Bitcamp (at UMD in April), I can lend you some stuff. Make sure hardware works before the event. If you are going to use a Raspberry Pi, for example, make sure it boots up, you remember the password, install updates, etc.
- Go for the challenges, for example we used MongoDB to store our data even though we could have just put it in a file. We didn't win the MongoDB prize, but I did learn a lot. Also we spent some time brainstorming a domain name, which is how we won the award for best domain.
- Make something fun: at bitcamp last year, we made a trash can that insults you when you put recycling in, and won most entertaining! (it actually couldn't tell between trash and recycling, so it would always insult you :)
- Or make something you need/want, that way even if you don't win, you can still use it! One time we made a chatbot, and we didn't win but I still enjoy talking to it sometimes: https://games.johanv.xyz/carl
- Add this stuff to your resume, and you can even include a link to the project. Employers will be impressed that not only do you know flask, but you also have a public flask app on the internet to prove it! And if you ask me, getting an internship means you were the real hackathon winner. :)
Good luck, and let me know if you have any more questions about this stuff! (Same goes to you, the blog reader, feel free to get in touch: https://johanv.xyz/contact)