Hacking Hackathons

In slightly less than two weeks I’ll have the opportunity to chat with the Guelph Knowledge Translation & Transfer (KTT) Community of Practice. In particular, I’m going to be chatting about my observations and experiences delivering hackathons over the years; how they’ve changed, and how the awesome team I get to work with have helped reshape them into inclusive multidisciplinary extra- and co-curricular events.

My very first experience organizing and running a hackathon was with the 2014 Open Data Day Hackathon. Since then, I’ve been fortunate to work with an awesome group of students, staff, and faculty to bring the NetZero Hackathon, Startup Weekend Guelph, Feeding9Billion Challenges, GuelphHacks for Mental Health, and the Improve Life Challenges to life. And with each of these hackathons, we’ve learned something that shapes how and why we deliver hackathons at Guelph.

Join me on October 25th at 11:30 in the University Centre (room 420) to learn more – including an announcement about our next upcoming hackathon!

Initially designed to bring together computer scientists and software engineers to develop code-based solutions to industry challenges, hackathons have expanded to include expertise from disciplines such as health and wellness, medicine, environmental sciences, and more. 

In this discussion, you will learn how hackathons have been successfully adapted to 1) include both extra- and co-curricular settings, 2) provide students with interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities, 3) connect students with community expertise, and 4) foster the development of transferrable skills (such as communication, problem solving, team work, and critical thinking). Further, we will discuss how hackathons and design thinking can be used as an effective tool for knowledge mobilization.

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