Hackathons à la Française

It’s been almost a year since my first WearHacks Hackathon experience in Paris and I still get excited thinking about it. Who would’ve thought that a weekend of volunteering, tweeting, coffee binging, and coding would be so… awesomely awesome?

So much has changed in the past few months. I’ve transformed from volunteer to EU Ambassador Liaison like when Gohan first went Super Saiyan 2 and it has been an unforgettable ride so far. It’s been great meeting with the European tech community and getting a better idea of what makes this community tick. I appreciate all the help and advice European tech enthusiasts have given me. You guys are the real MVPs. On a personal note, I’m even taking coding classes now.

When I tell you that I had no idea what to expect at a hackathon, I need you to believe me. Back then, I wasn’t what  you would call the most technologically savvy individual. Yes, Google is one of my best friends and I can manipulate Microsoft Word document margins to my will like Aang bends air… but coding? Nah.  Up until the hackathon in Paris, coding and programming were foreign words to me if the conversation wasn’t about The Matrix.

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So when I agreed to be a volunteer for #WHParis, I thought that I would just be running errands, handing out goodie bags and directing people to the restrooms. I did my fair share of the typical volunteering work but I got so much more out of this experience that I can only imagine how much better it was for the hackers!

Firstly, I was blown away by École 42, the site of #WHParis. The private computer programming school is, get this, tuition-free and is revolutionary in its pedagogy (no teachers, no classes, no problems). Plus the school looks like a cross between an Apple Store and a Star Trek spacecraft. How cool is that?! I met some really great people at ‘42’ and I think the ambiance just added to the overall success of the event.

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Another thing that I took away from #WHParis was how we are just one idea away from positively changing the world. I was impressed at how the hackers took devices such as the Myo Armband, Oculus Rift, Estimote Beacon and my personal favourite, the Nod Ring, and came up with projects that just left me optimistic about our future. I chatted with the hackers during the brainstorming stage and I enjoyed helping them (or what I thought to be helping) with the creative process. Watching the hackers present their final projects to the mentors and judges, I began to realise that I was a part of something major. WearHacks is a movement.

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I definitely encourage people from all backgrounds to experience a hackathon at least once in your life. You will not be disappointed. There is definitely room for you to learn a few things, network, and just have a fantastic time building something from the ground up. Make your own magic.

WearHacks is hosting its second hackathon in Paris on April 15-17 2016 at École 42. We’re pulling out all the stops to make this year’s hackathon the biggest one yet. We’re aiming to include more first-time hackers, primary and secondary school students, women, and minorities from the Parisian region and the wider French community. International hackers are also more than welcome to join us. This is a hackthon you don’t want to miss !

A bientôt !

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