On the 26th-27th June 2021, The University of Reading’s, Student-led Tech Society, R. U. Hacking? Hosted their Annual event. The R. U. Hacking 2021 Hackathon. Due to the complications caused by the Coronavirus global pandemic, an event which usually would thrive in a physical environment, was compelled to be moved into a virtual setting if it was to take place this year.
While initially this seemed like an intense obstacle for the organisational team, it did allow some possibilities which previously couldn't be considered. The most prominent of these was the location-less, physical-less aspect allowing the event to be opened up to the entire globe, with no travel requirements and no limitations outside of having an internet connection, the R. U. Hacking? Team were able to produce an inclusive event which spanned throughout all 6 inhabited continents: with over 1000 sign ups and over 500 active participants interacting via the 24HR live Twitch stream or communicating through the Discord server.
Hackathons are Limited Time period events, some can be a weeklong, some 48 hrs and R. U. Hacking? 2021 was limited to 24 hrs. In these time periods participants have to collaborate and cooperate with their teams in a design-like sprint event.
Hackathon is a portmanteau of the words hacking and marathon. This is not hacking in the common computer security usage, but more in the sense of exploratory programming, to “Hack” something together, usually resulting in a slightly less-than-elegant, possibly not optimally efficient solution. But a working product none-the-less or at least a presentable Concept.
The fundamental idea is that everything produced and submitted must be from work done in the dedicated time period.
To add to the chaos, the teams get set challenges in which they can participate, specific criteria that their solutions must adhere to, for the possibility of winning extra prizes or rewards, in R. U. Hacking? 2021, the team brought in many world-leading tech companies to set challenges, as well as sponsoring the event and running talks or workshops to keep the participants engaged and involved alongside their hacking periods.
Some of these included:
The challenges set by these organisations ranged in varying levels of complexity, technicality and intricateness for the desired solutions, while the domains of each of the sponsors varies drastically and the versatility shone through the challenges, one true core value remained prominent amongst all these: Innovation.
In total, there ended up being over 15 challenges, ranging in sizes with a combined total of over £3000 worth of prizes, plus work experience, mentorships, internships and further collaborations with the sponsors!
There were opportunities for the participants to interact with the sponsors, and with each other, through workshops, such as Postman’s API 101 workshop, or Q+A sessions offered by many of the sponsors.
Some of the final solutions were absolutely phenomenal, with the Standout winner from BCS’ challenges being “Face The Facts”, a voice/face/text recognition and privacy preserved Machine Learning tool to support the diagnosis and treatment of people with Depression.
A Virtual coffee meet app designed by one of the team aimed to increase social interaction throughout a company, outside the immediate teams that they work with, attacking an extremely prominent problem derived from a virtual “working-from-home” environment.
A creative solution to coerce children into helping with chores was invented by “Tiger Tabs” allowing parents to create a points based game, with rewards and a competitive aspect - while another team leveraged the Google Maps Direction API to create a more practical Mapping tool kit to be used in Microsoft Excel.
"Footprinter" also demonstrated an effective use of AI, ML, and cloud analytics to implement a web-based Environmental-Footprint Calculator which not only allows organisations to calculate their environmental footprint, but also suggests the ways in which can improve their footprint. This was in response to the Bayer LifeHub UK challenge.
The event turned out to be a major success, with all of the participants thoroughly enjoying themselves, and the extreme versatility between those who have participated and won multiple hackathons, working in synergy with the influx who were attending this as their first step into the hacking community. The community spirit shone throughout the event, with the collaboration while hacking being paramount, but also the downtime in between - playing games together, attending the mini events and generally showing the hacker ethos to its full truest colours.
All the created project and winners are available to view : https://r-u-hacking-hackathon-2021.devpost.com/project-gallery
Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub has announced it will run a second peer-to-peer networking programme for Berkshire businesses following the success of last year’s pilot.
Part of the Government’s Peer Networks initiative, the free programme will bring together diverse cohorts of business leaders to discuss business challenges and opportunities. Delivered through a series of six high impact group sessions with a trained facilitator, business owners will share experiences, discuss common issues and identify practical solutions to overcome them. The programme aims to help SMEs create a trusted local support network, accelerate growth and improve productivity.
For more details and to register your interest click here.
The tech sector is currently responsible for 1 in 10 UK job vacancies, however there is continued disparity in representation and venture capital investment for underrepresented groups.
As such, Tech Nation are delighted to launch the Diversity & Inclusion Toolkit, a guide for tech founders and their employees to help them build more diverse and inclusive businesses, and provide equal opportunities for everyone aspiring to work in UK tech.
For more details click here.
Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation 2021/22 competition aims to get more women with excellent ideas innovating within UK businesses.
At least 20 female entrepreneurs will be awarded a cash injection of £50K each, and recieve a bespoke package of business support, coaching and mentoring.
The competition is open for applications. Click here to find out more about the eligibility criteria, the application proccess, and timeline.