IC Hack ‘19: my story

IC Hack is an annual hackathon held at the South Kensington campus. It is the biggest student-run event of this type in the UK. I had a chance to take part in the ‘19 edition and I felt very lucky then. Getting a ticket to go there is insanely difficult as they always sell out in a few seconds!

You may wonder “What is a hackathon?”. Usually, it is a 24-hour non-stop event (yes, non-stop, meaning hardly any sleep at night) when you team up with other people to create something innovative from scratch, using new technology and possibly other knowledge. This is a great opportunity to develop your teamworking skills, deepen your passion (whatever it is) and get noticed by potential employees. You don’t need any programming experience to take part in a hackathon and benefit from it!

As IC Hack ‘19 was my first ever hackathon, it was a truly unique experience for me. I would like to describe it here, a year later.

Finding a group

Before coming to the event on Saturday morning, I had to find a group I wanted to work with. As I was just only a few months into university life, I didn’t have many strong friendships. Therefore, I struggled to find people from my year or even beyond to team up with.

Fortunately, the IC Hack organisers set up a Slack workspace dedicated for people like me, so eventually I got to know three teammates. They were two second-year engineering students at Cambridge and one recent Computer Science masters graduate from Georgia Tech.

Then, equipped with “human resources”, I was ready for the day (two days, actually).

Hacking

Having agreed what to make beforehand, we set up our laptops on our table (every team gets one) and quickly started working. We wanted to create a program making it possible for deaf people to “speak” via eye movements alone.

In the meantime, we could get literally lots of free food and drinks (including ice cream and Red Bull cans) whenever we wanted, in addition to lunch and dinner on day 1, a pizza at midnight and breakfast and lunch on day 2. Moreover, there were many informative workshops organised by the sponsors, including Cisco. We could take part in several social events as well, e.g. free drinks at Metric (one of student bars at Imperial) in the evening and karaoke at night. If necessary, any one of us could take a short nap in a quiet sleeping room. Overall, it was really difficult to get bored 🙂

Our result of 24-hour hard work was Eye2Action: an app for PC and Android translating a sequence of eye movements recorded by a camera to English in real-time. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to complete it, but we weren’t too much worried. After all, it was a learning experience with great fun!

This year’s edition of IC Hack takes place on 8-9 February 2020. There are no more tickets available, but as far as I know, you can sign up to the waiting list 🙂

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