Notes from the North East: Imagine Cup Hackathon 2012

We had a great time at the Imagine Cup North East Hackathon this weekend. Black Marble turned out in force with myself, Steve, Richard, Robert, Linda, Josh and Riccardo all helping out. Andy Westgarth and the guys at Sunderland Software City had done a solid job on the organisation and we were well looked after.

There were nine teams there in total, from a wide range of Universities and Colleges in the Newcastle/Sunderland area. I was impressed by their ideas and their tenacity in defending those ideas against a barrage of questions from myself and others. I was also taken by the range of ages we had. Some of the teams were A-level and college students, whilst others were in various years of their university degree courses. Even if they don’t make it through to the national finals this year, the younger teams will gain great experience and can enter again next year and beyond.

Linda has uploaded photos that myself and Josh took during the hackathon to the Black Marble Facebook page and you can find tweets with the #ICNE hashtag.

I’d like to give a big thanks to Finlay Mann for his help over the weekend. Unfortunately, the speaker lined up to run the User Experience workshop was unwell, so I stepped into the breach with Finlay. With no preparation and no slides we managed to cover the subject well, with lots of examples from our own experience.

Thanks are also due to Dan, Liam and  Colin from last years winning North East teams who, along with Riccardo and Josh did sterling work answering questions and helping teams with technical issues all through the night when us oldies had gone to get some sleep!

Gary Short delivered a great session on presentation skills, which is an area where I still feel universities badly let down their students. We were also grateful for mentors from Sage and Ubisoft who gave their time, ran workshops and spoke to teams over the weekend.

Hopefully we will make it back up north for the NEBytes session in March where the teams are invited to attend and practice their presentations for the regional final. All the teams that took part in that last year said how useful it was to receive comments, constructive criticism and questions from the user group attendees.

Overall it was a thoroughly enjoyable day and I’d like to give a hearty congratulations to the attending teams, whose ideas I watched develop and grown over the course of the event and who presented those ideas well to the group at the end of a very tiring hackathon. Well done all!

Looking forward to the Imagine Cup Hackathon

It’s a busy week this week and I’m really looking forward to being involved with the Imagine Cup Hackathon for the North East Region this Friday and Saturday (1st and 2nd February).

Black Marble have a long history of supporting the UK Imagine Cup teams and it’s great to be able to continue that support. We’ll be in The Life Science Centre, Newcastle upon Tyne in force this week. Steve Spencer, Richard Fennell, Robert Hogg and myself will be accompanied by Riccardo Viglianisi and Josh Whittle from Black Marble.

We’ll be proving help and support to teams from the North East alongside Andy Westgarth, MVP and founder of NEBytes, who has worked hard alongside Sunderland Software City and Steve Spencer to promote the Imagine Cup across north eastern schools, universities and colleges. We’ll also be joined by Black Marble event regular Gary Short and members of last year’s North Eastern Region winning teams.

That makes a total of five Microsoft MVP’s, hopefully five members of last years winning teams and other enthusiastic supporters (that would be me!). If you are already involved in the Imagine Cup in the North East we’ll see you there. If not, head over to the Imagine Cup site, or see if your university, college or school is already involved for more information on how to take part. You can register to attend the hackathon on its eventbrite page.