Hackathon-Challenge: App-Development at TU Braunschweig

Last Thursday, fourteen students of the TU Braunschweig followed the invitation of bonding and accepted the challenge to develop approaches for a smartphone app within 8 hours in teams of three or four. TRIOLOGY supported this event as representing sponsor and accompanied the participants in this challenge with a mentor.

The student initiative bonding has identified a problem many computer scientists face. While studying, they are well-acquainted with solid theoretical knowledge in programming, but often lack opportunities to deal with a specific practical task as a team. The hackathon  offers students the opportunity to develop their creative and application-oriented skills through an exciting development task, while, at the same time, practicing time management and teamwork. As a software company for demanding IT projects, we support this “hands-on” approach and enjoy the opportunity of a one-to-one exchange with students of the University of Brunswick.

Hence, on Thursday morning, the bonding team and 14 IT-savvy students, as well as a small TRIOLOGY delegation and representatives of other sponsors came together. The welcoming speech at 9 am took place in the student house Masch.Bau, which was completed only in fall of last year. The Hackathon participants first received a welcome pack with nice gimmicks and information material before they listened attentively to the company presentations of the companies involved. Here, Josha introduced himself as a mentor. With the help of many photos, he painted a vivid picture ofthe alignment and advantages of our company, e.g. the working atmosphere at TRIOLOGY, for the students. Our HR Manager Franziska concluded the short presentation with an insight into the entry opportunities in our company and the advantages that our current working students see.

Next, the details of the task for the day were announced. This year, the goal was to develop an Android app for helpers and people in need of help. Based on the UBER principle, which enables geo-location based search as well as highly automated agreement between two users, a smartphone app that has a social orientation should be created. The specific help that can be offered and requested, and the target group the app is aimed at, was left to the creativity of the students. The goal was to create added value for the users, which should motivate them to use the app from the start. Another requirement was that the platform should protect users from abuse in order to build trust in the app.

After the students were divided into 4 groups of 3-4 members, the first phase of the competition started at 11 am. Now the students should find a group agreement on the basic concept. This had to be documented in form of a concept paper, on which all App functions should be listed and briefly described, within two hours. The second phase followed after lunch. Now the focus was on defining the app processes between the key user groups (helpers and people in need of assistance), the security concept as well as the implementation of the functionality. Also the graphic design for a user-friendly user interface kept the 14 students busy.

At 7.30 pm hacking was over. The mobile phones running the developed apps as well as the presentations and flipcharts had to be submitted. While eating the oversized pizzas bonding ordered, you could clearly see how the strain of the deadline dropped away from the students. A casual exchange between the groups, the bonding team and the mentors of the companies arose before the presentation phase began.

In the following 90 minutes, the company representatives listened to the presentations of the Hackathon participants. While the concepts of groups 3 and 4 included very broad target groups and use cases, group 1 focused on young and elder users with the JuA app. Group 2 tried to bring together refugees and refugee helpers with their approach.

During the presentation, the jury evaluated the app concept, the user interface and the app functions shown on the basis of use cases from the point of view of the helpers and those in need. In addition to the implementation (30%) and the conceptual approach (30%), the presentation (20%) as well as the teamwork and the time management (20%) of the group were also taken into account for the evaluation.

At around 10.30 pm, the winners of this year’s hackathon finally found their feet. The solid concept, the appealing UI as well as the successful presentation of the “HelperHood”-Team won the jury over.

The bonding team managed to make sure that all Hackathon participants felt like winners of the evening and, in addition to the prizes, had a chance to grow personally.

“There have been interesting approaches and great presentations again this year.” says mentor Josha von Gizycki. “As a mentor, I additionally took the chance to follow what team dynamics arose in the work process. The hackathon was a lot of fun and I hope we will be in again next year.”

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Jenny Dornberger
Corporate Communications
She tries to explain the world of software development for customers and applicants - and she certainly doesn’t shy away from the technical topics either!