Sunday, April 27, 2014

VTHacks

Last weekend, April 18-20, Spencer and Grant participated in VTHacks, Virginia Tech's first Hackathon. Around 600 college students from 90 universities turned out to work in groups for 36 hours to create a coding project from start to finish. Thanks to the kids' computer mentor, Kevin, Spencer and Grant were allowed in as the only non-college kids, at ages 12 and 14, grades 6 and 8.

I dropped them off at Cassell Coliseum at 5 pm on Friday, they came home Saturday morning from 7 to 11 for a quick nap, then returned and stayed until 2:30 pm on Sunday. All meals were provide and kids just slept wherever, whenever, as needed to get through the long weekend of work.

On Sunday all projects were presented at an "Expo" with awards announced following. To our tremendous surprise, Spencer and Grant were announced as winners of one of three prizes awarded by our local tech company, Rackspace! As if recognition were not enough, along with that comes a Rackspace Startup Package with Cloud servers and computing.



There were kids on the floor of the coliseum as well as around the mezzanine (or whatever you call that hallway that goes around the building). Check out all the toasters and bagels on the table.


Their "office" for the duration.


Speaking with the judges who critiqued, questioned, and offered advice.

Their mentor Kevin Malachowski (white shirt) who has taught them much. His team took first prize with their 3-D maze controlled by hand gestures.

Here's a great write-up about the Hackathon by Samuel Toriel, one of the Rackspace judges. Spencer and Grant are pictured with the other Rackspace awardees in their coveted Racksburg shirts!


This was an incredible experience for both Spencer and Grant and they left there even more motivated and fired up about programming. They learned a lot about the types of projects to tackle for a Hackathon and how to approach it.

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