nwHacks 2017 & others

You know the past couple of weeks have been an absolute whirlwind when I considered the 3 hours of sleep I had last night a true blessing. Where do I begin?

I walked into my co-op mock interview a couple weeks ago and I was asked “What is your favourite thing to do when you have time”, to which I swiftly responded “Going to hackathons!” My interviewer then shook his head in disapproval and clarified, “No, I mean your REAL interests”. I was taken aback for a moment. Perhaps what he truly meant was for me to discuss non Computer Science related interests. However, the way he phrased the question made me feel like I just told him my hobby is maintaining world peace, or worst, my greatest weakness was being a perfectionist. Attending hackathons around North America in the past year has truly been my favourite activity and although I don’t see a need to justify why, I’ll tell you anyway- in case you too, are wondering if that’s my REAL interest. Attending hackathons isn’t just the act of programming non-stop for a prolonged period of time. Yes, that is part of it- but there’s so much more to it! As more and more hackathons start offering scholarships/ travel reimbursements, they become an opportunity to travel. Recently, I discovered that my mind is most at ease when I am sitting on an airplane just listening to music, reading a book or even just staring out the window. I don’t get that feeling from anything else, and that is just one example of how going to hackathons bring me to my happy place. In addition, I love travelling alone without having to worry about not knowing anyone when I land- a fear I secretly have. After going to a few hackathons, I have now been able to pinpoint some regular hackers that I see at every hackathon- that familiarity certainly doesn’t hurt. But more so, you are guaranteed to meet new like-minded individuals at the hackathon. Plus, you’ll even get the chance to work with them, learn and create something awesome! Lastly, I love exploring. I’ll usually try my best to arrive at the venue a couple hours before the hackathons starts just so I can bring my camera around on an adventure. What can I say? Someone’s got to update that Snapshots section of the blog somehow haha! Side note, who doesn’t appreciate free food and free “accommodation” (sleeping on the floor is close enough)? So to me, saying that I love going to hackathons implies so much more than “I love making cool stuff”! It also implies that I love travelling, exploring and meeting new people.

In the past 2 weeks, I have attended 2 hackathons, with the first one being nwHacks. 

If you know me, you would probably know that even after attending so many incredible hackathons, I will always have a soft spot for NW. I do think that I enjoyed it more last year, but that’s to be expected as it was after all, my first ever hackathon. If you are interested in what I built there, feel free to read our Devpost. The project utilizes Microsoft Azure to create a platform geared towards students with special needs. As a side note, this project is especially close to my teammate’s heart. So if you are reading this, thanks for the great idea and I’m glad we were able to create a fully functional project whilst having loads of fun (including the shivering midnight walk)! <3

The second hackathon was one that I volunteered for. Unfortunately, my MacBook and phone were stolen there. That honestly tore me apart, as I had so many assignments due this week. I am still trying to see if there is anything that could be done about it but in the meantime, I haven’t been sleeping much as I had been anxiously redo-ing all the homework and assignments I lost. The downside to going to hackathons on the weekends is that you have to make sure you are super on top of school work, or you’ll pretty much have to do your homework at the venue, instead of hacking. Therefore, this added a lot to my stress. :( 

On a brighter note, my team won 3rd place at the Microsoft Machine Learning Competition we entered a while back! It was definitely a pleasant surprise as our far from perfect model actually gave us quite good accuracy! 

I am also about to head off to HackPrinceton, so back to my happy place I go! :) 

Hope you are all having a good end of semester. Hang in there, we are almost done!