Unleashing Creativity: Hackathons & The Magic of Innovation
Imagine a place where makers come together—full of excitement, energy, and snacks—to build whatever their hearts desire. Solutions that address pesky functions or non-existent tools to improve our work and personal lives. It could be anything, from video game upgrades to new business ideas to figuring out how to more efficiently and securely share internal files across the network.
At SEP, our internal hackathons are like wonderlands where tech wizards get the freedom to let their creativity soar.
Picture this: a developer faces a problem with an app at work that slows things down. Instead of getting frustrated, they see it as a chance to make a change. During a hackathon, they dream up a fresh idea and recruit a team to get design help and more expertise in a specific framework. They work together to build a solution and put it into action—all in just two days!
It’s a speedy journey from idea to reality, and even when the final result from the weekend is more learning than a finished product, we still see the value in practicing this type of problem-solving and innovative thinking.
Summer 2023 Hackathon Projects
What projects did we tackle this year? Here’s a recap:
MIDI Chord Expander
Project Concept: MIDI Chord Mapper Built in Java
Technologies: Java/Java MIDI Library, MIDI Controller, loopMIDI Virtual MIDI-port Management Freeware
Brian’s project was a MIDI chord mapper built in Java. It took MIDI messages from his physical MIDI controller, modified them by adding extra notes to form chords out of the original messages, and passed them on to a virtual keyboard that could then be picked up by digital audio software.
Project Concept: Single C# File Chess Bot
Technologies: C#, Tree Search, Token Optimization
Steven’s crew worked a chess bot for a competition. This competition’s unique constraint was that the submission was a single C# file with a limit of 1024 tokens. Along the way, they learned how chess engines are implemented, including minimax with alpha-beta pruning, transposition tables, and how to define an algorithm to effectively evaluate how a given chess board state favors a particular player. At the end of the weekend, they could still beat the chess bot in a game of chess, but it did put up a fair fight.
Project Concept: Automate Excel sheet data sharing
Technologies: Excel, OfficeScript (Typescript that interacts with Microsoft Office Products)
Joe worked on a scheduling tool to streamline multiple schedules for teams who need to share information more easily. The project was to automate data from multiple Excel sheets for each team so that any data needed would always be up-to-date for each team/sheet.
Project Concept: Turn any article into audible narration for a drive
Technologies: AWS etc, Docker, NGINX, Flask, React, Whisper, ChatGPT3.5, Coqui.ai
Lee recruited a team for the weekend to build a practical tool to improve his commute. The app allows the user to paste a web article before the drive, which will be read aloud to the driver on the road. Then, if they ask a question, Drive Gooder will pause its playback, forward the question and that part of the article to ChatGPT, and then read ChatGPT’s answer to the driver.
During hackathons, makers can try out creative ideas and make things happen. It’s an opportunity to turn frustrating user experiences into fantastic solutions and find answers to problems no one else has thought of. Hackathons give the perfect stage to show off skills, encourage teamwork, and push the boundaries of what’s possible.
Build awesome things for fun.
Check out our current openings for your chance to make awesome things with creative, curious people.
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