deltaHacks (@deltaHacks) organized by HackItMac (@HackItMac) took place this weekend on McMaster campus. The event brought in 200+ students, not just from the McMaster community, but from around Southern Ontario – University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, University of Guelph, Mohawk College and others. The students formed teams and worked on building real-world applications for social change in a 24-hour time period.
I was a judge on the Sunday portion of the event and was able to walk around and check out the different projects. The projects ranged from web apps, to mobile apps to wearables. The nature of the event meant that many if not most projects were either medical or educational in nature. However there were a bunch of really cool non-profit and ‘social good’ ideas – for example applications to help foodbanks tell prospective donors what types of food exactly they are running short on, or applications to help people find items they have lost.
The teams were filtered down to 5 finalists on the Sunday who gave presentations before the top 3 winners were selected. The top prize went to Project Julius, an app that detects and blocks seizure inducing content, and included a flight/hotel to a hackathon taking place in South Korea!
The fact that the hackathon included students from outside the McMaster community was excellent. Making it more than a McMaster event builds awareness and brings connections to McMaster. Some of the better projects were done by students from outside McMaster and that’s OK too – that’s inspiration and education for everyone. A lot of the teams seemed to include students from a mixture of institutions. A hackathon is taking place at Western soon. It’s great for the broader region to see this happening.
deltaHacks really does signal a big change on McMaster campus. I’ve been at McMaster in one form or another since 2002. After the 2000 dotcom crash enrolment in computing programs plummeted for the early to mid 2000s. In terms of community activities, I think we had a bowling night or something, maybe a meet the profs night and a 40-person ‘programming challenge’ night? It was great fun, but nothing at this scale.
Around 2009 regular enrolment increases began (as did higher entrance averages). A hackathon at a scale like this would have been completely unthinkable 10 years ago… even 5 years ago. It was surreal walking around the student centre seeing table after table of students working on cool projects. Those enrolment increases have continued through to today and are, last I saw, expected to continue into the future.
deltaHacks signals a critical mass of talent has arrived on McMaster campus. A critical mass that could do some very great things in the years ahead. This was an amazing start.
Check out the top 5 finalists present at deltaHacks below: