To: Tyler Walker

From: Christian Francisco

Subject: Annual Fall Hackathon

Date: 21 June 2017

The purpose of this memo is to present the insufficient amount of annual hackathon events at
Washington State University. Students studying computer science are not given enough opportunities to
apply the concepts and skills they have received from their courses. It is the school’s responsibility to
schedule additional hackathon events scheduled on campus for students to apply their intellect.

Summary

Computer science students at Washington State University agree there are not enough events hosted
similar to the Crimson Code Hackathon. Researching the events hosted by universities across the nation
and surveying local computer science students reveals an interest in computer science events being
hosted more than once a year. Students with a future career in computer science would benefit from an
additional annual hackathon event held in the fall semesters.

Introduction

The computer science students at Washington State University are familiar with the absence of
opportunities to apply their knowledge to outside course projects. Due to Pullman’s rural environment,
there are few job opportunities that would allow students to apply computer science concepts and
skills. Clubs offered at Washington State University are limited as well. Despite having ten engineering
clubs, the majority advertise tech talks and those who offer programming experience are limited to just
a few subjects. Although several clubs offer beneficial experience, it is worth noting the amount of these
clubs are limited and handicap the intellect and creativity of students alone. However, the Crimson Code
Hackathon event has done well to bring students together in a competition to build the most well-
developed and creative project within a span of twenty-four hours. Events similar to the hackathon give
students the ability to develop various projects and network with professionals and students.
Unfortunately, the Crimson Code Hackathon is only hosted once a year.
Research Methods

Task 1: Research hackathon events hosted by universities around the nation

In preparation to developing a solution, research was completed on events held at other universities
across the nation. Instead of creating a solution from a blank slate, it would be beneficial to discover
how other universities handle hackathons. The information from this research would provide a guideline
to hosting hackathons and determine what characteristics prove to be successful. The information
gathered from an individual university included:

• Date of hackathons
• Frequency of hackathons
• Theme of hackathons

The information recorded was available to the public on websites designed for the school’s computer
science department and individual events.

Task 2: Survey Washington State University students

In addition to the university research, research was received through an online survey to receive the
thoughts of computer science students whom these events would be held for. Student opinions should
help shape the future of additional hackathons since they are designed to help bring opportunities
revolved around student interests. The surveys included the following questions:

• Would you like to see more hackathon events hosted at Washington State University?
• How many hackathon events would you like to see annually?
• Would you like to see a variety of themes at new hackathons?
• What themes would you like to see at new hackathons?

The survey was created online and shared on social media groups on Facebook consisting of Washington
State University computer science students.

Results

Task 1: Research hackathon events hosted by universities around the nation

The research revealed information indicating a benefit to hosting additional hackathon events for
students at Washington State University. Other universities, such as Princeton, offer students a
minimum of two hackathon events per year, once during the fall and another in the spring
(HackPrinceton, 2017). These events were not restricted to the general hackathon Washington State
University students are adept to attending. Cornel University has hosted hackathon whose aim is to
bring new hardware to students and develop innovations to solve real world problems. Researching
universities provided ideas that could bring opportunities to students that they previously did not have
access to (Hackathon and more, n.d.).
Task 2: Survey Washington State University students

A total of twenty-seven surveys were completed and submitted for research. The majority of the
students who surveyed showed favor in hackathons being added to the academic calendar and different
forms of events being hosted in addition to the general hackathon hosted in the spring. Students
reported they would like to be able to attend two hackathons per year, supporting the structure other
universities follow regarding their normally scheduled hackathons. In addition, students surveyed they
would like to see new themes implemented at the new hackathons that could be hosted at Washington
State University. Although there was no clear correlation amongst the new themes students would like
to see at hackathons, it further reinforced the idea that hackathons should be given themes to provide
diversity to the competition.

Conclusion

The results obtained from the research demonstrate that events are held per semester by other
universities across the nation with diverse themes and local students showed favor in how other
universities conducted hackathons throughout the year. Universities with strong computer science
programs show a trend in hosting a hackathon event at least once per semester. The trend would argue
Washington State University should host more events to benefit student learning. Despite the trend,
local students themselves wish to have more hackathon opportunities to the school. In the end, the
results correlate to reveal a favor in beginning to host more hackathons with the potential of themes.

Recommendation

Due to my conclusion, I would recommend hosting a hackathon during the fall semester with the
different theme each year. A fall semester hackathon would bring an additional opportunity to students
to collaborate and compete with the creativity and knowledge harvested from experience. The ability to
collaborate around teams provides students the ability to network and further their education from
learning from their peers. Also, the hackathon event held in the fall should bring a new theme to
students each year. A unique hackathon has the potential to introduce students to new hardware they
could design projects for and offer students to build projects to benefit their community. In the end,
annual fall hackathon with unique themes would allow students to receive the proper experience to
apply and further their education.
Appendix

Student Survey Samples

Sample One:
Would you like to see more hackathon events hosted at Washington State University?
Yes, because if you missed the hackathon then you are forced to wait a year before the next
one.
How many hackathon events would you like to see annually?
Two, one per semester.
Would you like to see a variety of themes at new hackathons?
Sure, the idea sounds interesting.

Sample Two:
Would you like to see more hackathon events hosted at Washington State University?
Yes
How many hackathon events would you like to see annually?
2
Would you like to see a variety of themes at new hackathons?
Yes
References

“Hackathon and more.” Cornell, eship.cornell.edu/hackathons/. (n.d). Accessed 21 June 2017.

“HackPrinceton.” Princeton, hackprinceton.com. 2017. Accessed 21 June 2017.