With coffee, energy bars and sheer determination, a group of UTA students created complete pieces of software in 24-hour competitions known as hackathons.
Hackathons are competitions in which university students from across the region have to complete a software program within a set time period. A team of UTA students who call themselves Double Stuffed Oreos has won two: HackHouston and HackSMU.
Robert Brady, computer science senior and Double Stuffed Oreos member, said hackathons are very competitive. In addition to students coming from several states, the Double Stuffed Oreos team was pitted against graduate students. In both competitions, there were around 20 teams.
“When you go through classes, you don’t always find people who are really good coders, that really enjoy the field,” Brady said. “But when you go to a hackathon, that’s people going outside their comfort zone, going outside class to actually work on something.”
Adarsh Pai, computer science sophomore and Double Stuffed Oreos member, said he has a habit of staying up through the competition. During one competition, he said he ate eight AWAKE caffeine chocolate bars. That is double the recommended daily intake.
Pai said when going through the competition, the team’s code works smoothly until about 2 a.m.
“From 2 a.m. to 10 a.m., nothing works,” Pai said.
But somehow, the team is able to fix all the errors and come up with a working product within the last two hours, he said.
The project that won the team first place at HackHouston was a platform called Edunate, which stands for education donation. The platform allows people to help struggling students by tutoring them, donating or exchanging student resources such as books. Brady said the platform allows people to donate skills, money or resources.
Imtiaz Khaled, computer science sophomore and Double Stuffed Oreos member, said hackathons are very different from programming alone. Teams can see all the other teams working around them, which increases competitiveness.
“It’s all about passion,” Khaled said. “If you like doing it, it’s really fun.”
Alejandro Martinez, computer science sophomore and Double Stuffed Oreos member, said he wanted to compete in hackathons to learn practical skills. He said that so often students can have a 4.0 GPA but know little about real-world application.
For HackSMU, the team’s winning project was a game called MemeRoyale.
James Brady, computer science sophomore and Double Stuffed Oreos member, said the game is multiplayer and works by showing a picture. Each player captions the picture then votes on which meme is the best.
Pai said participating in hackathons is a huge resume booster. He said the events are sponsored by companies, which in turn use them to recruit.
“It’s certainly helped with interviews,” Pai said.
The team plans on going to bigger competitions in the future.