Rocket.Build Community hackathons aren’t just for developers
At the Rocket.Build Community event this past weekend, one of my coworkers, a software engineer whom I recently met, said “Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t understand why you are here.”
I wasn’t offended. In fact, I laughed. You see, I can’t code. So what was I doing at a 24-hour hackathon for college students?
To start, let’s put aside the obvious reasons. I coordinated the Rocket volunteers. I managed the Lego Pit. (If you need any bulk Lego, cheap, let me know!) I helped the students with their final presentations.
Now for the less obvious reasons. First, I wanted to be a part of a project that brought the Rocket community together. Working with Rocketeers whose jobs don’t intersect with mine is exciting. In an informal setting, I learn about them and their work; they learn about me and my work. Suddenly, the Rocket community seems a bit smaller, and everyone feels more connected.
Second, I wondered how the college students would handle challenges. For me, one team stood out. This team designed an online repair clinic to match people who have objects that need simple repairs with those who can do the repairs.
During the final presentation, the team explained that things were going well the previous day until three members went to hear a technical presentation, and the guy who was developing the back end had to exit the hackathon unexpectedly. During the presentation, the team tactfully described the glitch as a “surprise.” I was likewise impressed when the drama continued with their servers failing an hour later… They were truly examples of perseverance and adapting to the unexpected!
What impressed me, as well as the other judges, was that this team had a sense of humor about the episode and they didn’t give up. In fact, we awarded them a prize for resilience.
I am already looking forward to next year’s Rocket.Build Community event. And maybe by then, I’ll write a line of code!