“We want to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate. Hackathons and innovation competitions have been an ideal way for us to inspire creative thinking both within our organization as well as externally when we invite students and young professionals to get involved in our challenges,” says Gerard Szatvanyi, CEO, OSF Digital.
One Hackathon in Romania was hosted by University Stefan cel Mare in Suceava for students in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department looking to demonstrate their creativity and technical skills with innovative new technologies. Participants were invited to create projects to promote a social cause or community event, or offer the community the opportunity to support a local cause through donations or volunteering.
The team “Republic of Kekistan” was represented by Dragos, Radu, Dumitru, and Maxim. They worked on the project “Improve Bucovina.apk,” a technology-focused approach to promote and centralize social causes so that the people can get more involved in community life. “Our application is a platform where all kinds of posts are grouped into 3 major categories (projects, donations, events). Any user can give a like to the posting he/she wants to support. This action has a major effect on projects, because the projects with the greatest number of ‘likes’ will be implemented. After registration the user can submit a post by filling out a simple form,” said Maxim. The team also wanted to help their audience learn more historical facts about Bucovina.
“My part of the project was to build a mobile game, a guide for Bucovina, where the user has to finish some quests in order to better understand certain locations in Bucovina. We thought that if people want to make a change in Bucovina, they should first know the region. The game could be an option for users who are not living there, or just for someone who wants to improve Bucovina, but doesn't know exactly how,” said Radu.
Everybody learned how to improve their project presentations and how teams can collaborate on the same project feature simultaneously. “The Hackathon is a place where you can meet people who have the same interests as you, and you can gain some real work experience, which is perfect for a student,” added Radu.
Another team named “Flashback” included Adrian, Ionut, Delia, and Maria. They created a platform for volunteer work and included gamification actions to encourage users to perform acts of kindness. A person creates a volunteer project or opportunity, and the person who completes it receives points that can be exchanged for prizes.
“Volunteering is more than an activity for your spare time. It’s a way to cooperate and express your passions and personal values. That’s why we thought of a concept app that helps volunteers to express themselves. The app ‘Now for Tomorrow’ has “the power of the example” as its motto. How does it work? It has three sections: as a volunteer or donor you can get involved in different projects and each project has a number of points. The more points you get, the higher your chances are to win a cool prize. The next section is the ‘Weekly Challenge’ where you can get involved in simple acts of kindness, such as helping a person in need of assistance cross the street. Last but not least, the app has a section called ‘Lost & Found’ where users can post announcements in order to help people find their lost things,” said Ionut.
We asked our participants what they learned during this experience and we particularly liked this answer from Ionut: “I learned that when motivated and hardworking people with great minds come together, some wonderful things can happen, even if they’re given a short period of time.”
The Hackathon’s participants encourage other students to participate in future editions because this kind of contest gave them a more complete student experience, and because projects like these can elevate a community when technology is combined with their valued creativity and skills. We are extremely grateful that we could organize this Hackathon in Suceava and we look forward to making a positive impact in our communities in 2020.