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Hackademy 2013 Is Over, But The Lessons Continue

Just a few weeks ago, we finished hosting Dyn’s first Hackademy, hosting 17 techie students representing colleges (BYU, Keene State, SNHU, UNH, Wentworth, and WPI) from across the country. The program consisted of application development workshops, networking events, and lots of food — capped off with a great hackathon.

As I look back, there were a few notable highlights for me.

The first was the networking event at Manchester’s abi Innovation Hub.  CEO Jamie Coughlin opened the space for us to mingle with some local NH tech dignitaries and entrepreneurs.  I wasn’t sure if the students would be into it, but the feedback was very positive, and several have already made some great connections.

Dyn-Hackathon-BlogThe second was the Hack Challenge. We had five teams of 3-to-4 students each that created their own app to develop over 36 hours. There were some technical hurdles to overcome, but all the teams pushed through and did a great job.  They all tried their hand at incorporating the workshop learning into their apps to make the most of the program.

For those application development workshops, we had special guest Charlie McConnell, VP of Engineering from nodejitsu, teach the students node.js, and Mandi Wallis, Sr. Technical Evangelist extraordinaire from Opscode, teach Chef.

Here was several feedback points coming out of the program from the students:

  • As an entrepreneur, this fuels me and motivates me to build a company like Dyn.
  • The networking with Dyn folks at the abi and the other students was invaluable.
  • The access to senior managers and the CEO was great. It wasn’t just people from marketing. (author’s note: no slam intended on marketing, but these students were all techies and want to talk to technical leaders)

The five apps that were presented:

  • Roommate Finder — an app to help people find roommates with similar interests
  • Nodeflyer — a swarm flight simulation game
  • My Tyme — a social event calendar on the cloud
  • Document Similarity Finder — an online document repository and search engine
  • DRAWesome — an interactive art web application

The Hack challenge grand prize went to DRAWesome, and Nodeflyer won the People’s Choice award! You can check all of the apps out as they are available publicly to play with. Stay tuned for news about the 2014 Dyn Hackademy!

In addition to the great students and guest speakers, the program would not have been the huge success it was without the help and support of several of our own Dyn employees.

I want to thank Claudia Santoro and Pete Cheslock for helping to form the technical element of the Hackedemy, Carl Levine for getting the students going with AWS and github, and John Manero, Kevin Short, Bryan Dina, and John Norton for providing their technical insight and student mentoring over the full program. We also had Bryan Marble from Mill33 lending his expertise. Thanks to Kevin, Molly, Ginnie, and Kristin who kept the food coming to fuel the students.

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