Friday, August 11, 2017
2:00 – 3:30 PM
On Friday afternoon, August 11, we kick-off the hackathon with a showcase of IoT technologies.
Kristen Ottofy, Microsoft Mentor, is on hand to provide Microsoft resources for the hackathon.
5:00 – 6:00 PM
General Orientation from John Whitten with all participants, mentors, coaches, and judges.
6:00 – 7:00 PM
The judges are organized into judging teams of 5 judges and one lead judge each. John Whitten and Ben Cagle review the process with the judges.
Head Judge: Caroline Dunn
Teams judged (in alphabetical order): Helm8, Knights, V1
Head Judge: Gloria Rismondo
Teams judged (in alphabetical order): Fan-X, Kickoff, Out Loud
Before I go any further, this is not a “tell all” type post. I will refrain from giving specifics on individual team performance. The intent of this article is to provide insights into what goes on at a hackathon and recap of the 2017 TAG IoT Hackathon.
8:00 – 9:30 PM – Judging Round 1 – Q&A Panel
Judges gather in their designated conference room.
8:00 – 8:30 PM – Team 1 Q&A Panel
8:30 – 9:00 PM – Team 2 Q&A Panel
9:00 – 9:30 PM – Team 3 Q&A Panel
9:30 – All judging teams reconvening and teams are ranked within each judging team with all coaches.
10:10 pm – Judges are dismissed.
9:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Teams meet to continue working on their projects
I’m not at the Hackathon. I’m running the Vinings Downhill 5K.
11:30 AM – 12:00 PM – Judges Briefing
12:00 – 1:30 PM – Judging Round 2 – Solution Concept Pitch
Each team presents a concept design or description of what their solution concept will look like. Judges provide feedback. 30 minutes total per team individually.
Teams that do well in round 2 have taken the judge’s feedback from the previous round and addressed the feedback by showing they did some research and/or making some modifications to their project.
1:30 – 1:45 PM – Judges rank teams
1:45 – Coaches are brought in to view their ranking and are given the opportunity to ask questions. Judges explain that the 3rd round of judging is worth 60% and it is still anybody’s game.
2:30 pm – Judges dismissed until 5:30 PM
Some judges stick around while others go home for a few hours.
2:30 – 5:30 PM
Reina Lingle, Melissa Sorrentino and I work together to document the Hackathon. Reina tweets from @IoT_GA (the official TAG IoT Symposium twitter channel), Melissa gathers the teams for pictures, and I start recording testimonials from the event from judges and coaches.
5:30 PM – Judges reconvene for a briefing with John Whitten.
At this point, the brevity starts sinking in. The 2 judging teams are each told to eliminate one team and send 2 teams into the final round on Sunday. Sunday will consist of 4 of the 9 current judges plus a few new judges (for fresh eyes). Each finalist team will be required to present their entire solution one at a time to the new judging panel between 2 and 4 pm on Sunday.
7:00 – 8:30 PM – Judging Round 3 – Proof of Concept Presentation
Instead of teams presenting in the judge’s conference room, judges come to the teams to experience the presentation and demos. It’s make or break time now.
8:30 – 9:00 PM – Judges deliberate on the team to eliminate and the 2 teams to advance. As head judge, I start by taking a poll of judges on the team to eliminate.
My judging panel is spilt between 2 teams on the team to eliminate. We’ve spent 2 days with these teams and have become emotionally attached to all 3 teams. We’re having a “Bachelor” moment, “I didn’t know letting go of one [team] would be so hard.” The judging panel debates, not just the presentation, but also the relevance to IoT and the premise of the Hackathon itself.
Once, the decision is made, we immediately take off our judging hats and become coaches. The sentiment shifts to, “I’m sending my babies off to war!” My entire judging team agrees to stay after the announcement is made so that we can provide coaching to the two teams we have chosen to advance to the final round. The other judging team led by Gloria does the same.
9:00 PM – John Whitten announces the 4 teams advancing to the final round and what to expect for Sunday.
Immediately after the announcement, we approach the coaches and request a debrief with the team and judging panel.
9:15 – 9:45 PM – Team 1 enters the conference room. For the first time, the team gets to sit. We’re no longer judges. We’re preparing our teams for battle. We give them every piece of coaching we can. We encourage them. We lift them up. We congratulate them.
9:45- 10:15 PM – Team 2 – same drill – Everyone is tired. Judges, Coaches, Hackers, all tired.
10:30 PM – Time to go home.
Sunday is a new day. I’m no longer a judge. I’m the videographer. I have a new helper. Michael Lane is his name and Physics is his game. He was a Physics major at Georgia Tech.
We work with Melissa to take pictures and capture a video demo of each team. At 4:00 PM we wrap. People are tired from the weekend. Michael asks if we can edit and publish the videos on his laptop. I’m too tired. I pack up and go home.
It takes me a week to go through the video and photos. I produce a video of each team and then I make a recap video.
Videos from the Hackathon:
Thank you John Whitten for leading a very successful and competitive hackathon. Great job!
Thank you to all of the hackathon participants, judges, mentors, coaches, and volunteers! I witnessed amazing teamwork! Thank you Ben Cagle for leading all judges.
Thank you Reina Lingle, Melissa Sorrentino, and Michael Lane for partnering with me to document this amazing event.