My first hackathon was at Hopkins in the spring of my first year. I walked into the event without a team, but ended up finding two friends who were also alone. We had only taken one computer science course so far (we were freshmen in our second semester), so our project scope was limited. We all took about an hour to jot down some ideas. We eventually landed on creating an android application for the school radio station.
I was a DJ for the station my first year at Hopkins (Sundays 3pm to 4pm, if you're interested), and I plan on continuing my sophomore year as well. The station gets decent traffic, but its hard to listen when youre not at a computer. You'd have to go through a browser to get to the site, which is kind of annoying. The site also was not very mobile friendly. Because of all this, we decided to develop an app that would allow people to listen easily while they only have access to a smartphone.
We only knew java, but I had messed around with android studio
last summer. I figured if I could develop the front end and back end
integration in AS, my teammates could work on the actual back end code.
I created a web view of the station's media player, so that the user
could stop and start the music. I also worked on podcasting given shows,
so that the user could listen to them at any time (still in progress).
My teammates worked on the web scraping for the app to display information
(artist, song, DJ, show name, ect.). We demoed our app, and it went pretty well.
We hope to clean it up sometime this summer and release it to theplaystore
for a more accessible download for students.
At first, I was intimidated by hackathons, because I was so inexperienced. However, I found that the evironment at these competitions is extrememly welcoming. There are dozens of mentors with years of knowledge that can help you through it. The events sort of force you to create something, and the best way to learn is by doing (as we did, basically teaching ourselves Android Studio in just three days). It was a marvelous weekend.