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The LeagueApps 2021 Hackathon: What We Learned

By Javier Rios

engineering career

Hackathons are exciting, fun and can be a way to learn new technologies as you navigate your engineering career. Hackathons can occur in a variety of ways,  ranging from helping nonprofits solve their technological needs to code in the dark challenges. For the last two years, the LeagueApps engineering team has put on internal engineering hackathons that have taught us a lot about coding, and more importantly one another. 

What are Hackathons Really About?

A good hackathon frames everything around the participants. With this in mind, it makes it easier for us to make decisions on what we strive to achieve in our hackathon experience. The first goal of a hackathon at LeagueApps is always how do we ensure engineers, designers, and participants walk away feeling invigorated. Hackathons break up the monotony of work and boost company morale. The second goal is finding ways the hackathon can drive innovation within the engineering team.

A hackathon has two key components: time constraint and a theme. This forces engineers, designers, and participants to work quickly around the clock on a single idea or project, for a given (usually short) period of time, and then move on from it after the time is up. This level of intensity is a welcomed break from the day-to-day of engineers, designers, and participants. Spending a few hours working towards a common goal with the team, without meetings or calls, is a great way to take a mental break from our typical routines.

Hackathons Drive Growth and Innovation 

This year’s hackathon we decided to have an open theme, allowing anyone to build anything they wanted. Are you being a lazy developer, you may ask. Well, we believe that curiosity and being a student of the game can drive learnings and innovation. When you run a hackathon, you are creating an opportunity for people to stretch themselves. It is a tangible way to explore what your community has to offer, from new technologies, to iterating through an idea you had in the back of your head with other cross-team members.

We encourage team members from cross squads to collaborate and be creative. It is a fun way for engineers, designers and participants to get involved, during a high energy, competitive atmosphere, and ticking clock to have an exciting 24-hour challenge. The complete change of pace is a great way to boost team spirit. 

What We Accomplished

This year the whole team came out swinging for the fences. They weren’t afraid of the 24-hour time constraint or ambiguity of the theme. Projects spanned from tools to help build community, ascii art driving reporting in Slack, code in Kotlin for 24 hours to an encounter creator. There were many great projects but here are a few that stood out.

Grouper

A community tool to build groups, Grouper allows you to create micro-communities to engage with about a particular topic. David Cameron is a Senior Front-end Engineer at LeagueApps who strongly believes that community is important to create a better world for everyone. To build Grouper, David chose his tech stack to be React and Netlify. In 24 hours, David was able to build a prototype of Grouper.

Ascii Art Reporting in Slack

Kion Kasianeko, Principal Engineer at LeagueApps, has put an emphasis on reporting throughout his engineering career at LeagueApps. He keeps his theme from last year’s hackathon, where he built a reporting tool to show where in the world transactions were taking place, named Heartbeat. 

This year, he extended his love for reporting and took a creative approach on how to get reports in Slack. Creating an application within Slack to allow you to request values that are representative of the business health, the bot would display the report via ASCII art, with a single command.

Data, Data, Data, for the Win!

Carlos Calderon is a member of our data engineering team. Carlos works closely with many departments, generating custom reports and making sure everyone can understand their data. This was Carlos’ first Hackathon and he showed up! A young engineer, he showed us how passion and student of the game can get you far in a hackathon.

Carlos focused on improving tools and processes to make the data team’s day-to-day easier. Within the 24-hour challenge, Carlos was able to create a report to inform the data team cron job reliability and uptime. This challenge pushed his knowledge in writing Python and integrating with Google Sheets.

It was amazing to see so many engineers participate in this year’s hackathon. Being curious and creative is part of who we are as an engineering organization at LeagueApps and we love any opportunity to expose our team to new technologies that can support their engineering careers. Being able to take a step back and push ourselves around objectives that we’re passionate about was exciting, and listening to participants present with such enthusiasm was perhaps even better.  As the team grows, we are excited to see what existing and future teammates develop during our hackathons!

Do you think you would be a good fit for the LeagueApps engineering team? Check out our open opportunities to see if we’re the right next step for your engineering career. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Javie Rios

Javier Rios

Javie Rios is the director of engineering at LeagueApps. His team is responsible for delivering a best-in-class user experience and bringing value to partners through the LeagueApps platform. He fosters an environment where engineers and designers are enabled to innovate and are proud of the product they create. Favoring partnerships over silos, and an agile over waterfall approach, he is an intrapreneur at heart.
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