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Racing toward innovation together

Noga Raviv
Participant at hackUST

 

A fast finish took on fresh meaning at the University’s second hackUST in March 2015 when students from all over Hong Kong took part in the exciting computer coding event to turn ideas into prototypes in just 24 hours. Non-HKUST exchange student organizer Noga Raviv relates her awesome experience

“HKUST was not even my university, but it was the place that I felt the innovation and entrepreneurship community thrived most and felt most comfortable”

At the end of March, some HKUST friends and I organized a 24-hour hackathon for roughly 250 students on campus.

As an exchange student, I was looking for a community where I could connect with local students, do something interesting, and see new places. How did I get involved?GGST_hack hackUST was based out of Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, was created for students and by students, and is the second collegiate hackathon to take place in Hong Kong. HKUST was not even my university, but it was the place I felt the innovation and entrepreneurship community thrived most and felt most comfortable. So I connected with the students there, found myself loving their spirit (which reminded me of my Startup Shell family back in the US), and happily committed to the two-hour train ride to the Clear Water Bay campus each week. At HKUST, there is an ocean/island viewing point that students often pass on their way to class.  The overlook is shaped like an arch and resembles a mushroom.

 

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From that, we derived the contest theme (more on this later). For background, I’m a hearing and speech major, and oftentimes find myself asking “How did I get here, anyway?” But, anyway… here’s what happened in the 24 hours of hackUST. The event kicked off with an opening ceremony.

 

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Teams formed, brainstormed, and started hacking.

 

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It was neat to see students working together, putting ideas into action.  All those hours in meeting rooms with the organizing team were paying off.  This was really happening! Designs I had humorously made on Illustrator were now on shirts, name tags, banners, and laptop screens. GGST_hackphoto6  GGST_hackphoto6

 

While a mushroom theme would be a hard sell in the US, no one here commented, questioned, or laughed at it. They thought it sounded cool and just went with it. And so did I. This was part of the authenticity of an overseas hackathon, and I loved it. (When I tell my friends back home that people on this side of the world think differently, this is part of what I mean.)

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It was all fun and games…

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…it really, really was.

 

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Kiddos kept hackin’…

 

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and snackin’.  

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And at night, the University president arrived!

 This was a big deal (more than in the US) because education is a huge, huge deal here.

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We took lots (loooots) of pictures…

 

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…ate dinner…

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…then went back to hacking! At midnight, things started to get a little crazy.

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At 2am, we started our mini challenges. The first was code-related: find the hidden message in a .jpg picture of a mushroom.  The second (my favorite) was the Bubble Wrap Challenge: “Whoever pops the most bubbles in 30 seconds wins!”

 

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Just like the mushroom theme, this was an idea I jokingly brought up at one of the meetings. “Let’s do something non-technical!”

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Things got really funny and participants super hyped. At 4am, one of the organizers helped me code

 

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a website…  …and at 5am, I fell asleep. The morning agenda was hectic, organizing logistics, helping participants, and making last-minute edits to the closing ceremony PowerPoint.  But, finally, people demo-ed their projects and the judges made their decisions.

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Alas, the event was complete!  Ode to what’s been an incredible, hilarious, tiring, and exciting 24 hours.

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MAY THE MUSH BE WITH YOU!

Contact: Noga Raviv, ravivng@gmail.com
Link: https://medium.com/@nogaraviv/hacking-through-hong-kong-613112f0e0fb