Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Hackathon Experience

Or in otherwise a Hackathon from an engineers perspective...

HackUMass  


Hackathon: an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.


I like to think of hackathons as something for both techy people and business people. Especially in this era where everyone has an idea for some awesome app but has no clue how to code it. A hackathon is a great place to flex your entrepreneurial skills and build upon your ideas.


Being an engineer at a hackathon as opposed to a computer science major is a different experience in my opinion. Your work is more likely to be more hands-on, I mean this is why most engineers are in the industry… we love to get our hands dirty. But actually, it also depends on the product your team is developing.



Last weekend I attended HackUMass, a hackathon with both software and hardware focuses. Essentially, you had the possibility of creating anything from a robot to a app or video game (ehmmm..which I did! Continue to read on…) For those of you who don’t read my blog and did not see the WeCode Harvard post, I am a mechanical engineer undergraduate (hence, no coding experience to use at hackathons). All I have is some designing skills (Matlab, Solidworks, Cad) and beginner Python (a coding language) capabilities.


Once arriving to HackUMass, I signed in and begin to observe my surroundings. I knew that I had to look knowledgeable in order for people to want me on their team. Well… that is true and false in some aspects. It’s false because I found another mechanical engineer who had similar interest as me so we immediately hit it off and she invited me to be on her team (peep this: She was a graduate engineer student! oooo that’s pretty impressive for an undergraduate student). And the statement is true in the sense that the team I did end up joining invited me because I was a mechanical engineer with a designing background.


I feel like this is turning into a long story SO long story short: I helped design a game on Unity and integrated the Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles. This was my first experience with both Unity and Oculus Rift and my team and I were able to complete an entire game in less than 26 hours.


If you have any questions about my project or would like to see a demo, comment below and I’ll upload a video soon!



Product testers of the Oculus Rift Escape the Room Virtual Reality Game (Photos above)

Remember that list of skills I listed earlier? Well now I can add Unity and Oculus Rift experience! How exciting is that for mechanical engineer? It’s wicked exciting guys! (Like #soryynotsorry but after the hackathon I had to tell all my friends about this seemingly impossible feat.)


Grammarly yours, SemirahD

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