Our First Hackathon Story

HackRice 8 is our first hackathon. We had no prior experience in hackathon, neither did we have more than 3 months of experience in web development and back-end. We challenged ourselves driving 5 hours of highway from DFW to Houston to gain invaluable experience which we could never achieved otherwise. Rather than taking guided track course, we decided to take Chevron Challenge thinking that it would teach us a lot from the bugs and errors we were going to encounter.

ChevronChallenge is the optimized solution to schedule the requested repair and maintenance tasks. The goal of this challenge was to optimize the work schedule based on various factors such as priority level, availability of skilled technician, distance among work order request places, and so on. We were not able to cover on all factors due to complexity and time factor. But, the work orders are scheduled in such a way that it takes distance between work order places, minimum time of completion and availability of skilled technician into account.

We were a team of 3 members. We had been teaming up since 1 year for all the software development projects. One of us had a robust knowledge of web development and back-end. We divided our tasks as front-end, back-end and scheduling algorithm. We used python as main language because of it's flexibility. We used CSS, HTML and vue js for web development. At the end, we integrated our parts and tested successfully.

36 hours of coding is no easy task. Sleep and comfort deprivation was our first challenge. But, it is no hard to sacrifice those things in front of accomplishment and experience. Lack of enough expertise on web development was our another hard challenge. For this, we used trial and error method, documentation, and stack overflow. Our hardest challenge was to decide our requirements, data structure and algorithm because the resources was limited and we were unable to access technical staffs representing Chevron.

Our most important accomplishment was surviving our first hackthon of course. The experience of coding, networking and Rice community gained in such a small amount of time was very much invaluable. We got to know big and successful companies and their products and services. It added a great memory in our life as well as a moment in our career. Though, we were not able to win raffle prizes, we did get various free cool stuffs such as sponsored t-shirts, rubix cube, laptop stickers, pen, earphones and so on.

We got to code in an extensively coding environment which was like working at a big but unorganized coding company. We learned about Rice University and it's success. We learned about team challenges and teamwork.We discovered our motivation. All in all, we learnt to take risks and sacrifice our sleep and home. We believe we are capable of something big, maybe not soon but for sure.

Well, ChevronChallenge is on it's final version as of now unless someone expects to see more. But, this is not the end. It is the beginning of our team project and participation in hackathon. We plan to diversify our technical skills while having a expert knowledge in interested field. We hope to build another ChevronChallenge like project very soon.

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