Why we decided to run a hackathon
On Thursday the 23rd of June, UTS ProgSoc & WiseTech Global organized and ran the annual UTS Programmers Competition, with the aid of UTS in part of their UTS Technology Festival, a week-long industry event. The competition was held in person at UTS with the aid of DOMJudge, an automated and scalable system to run programming competitions, used worldwide in common events such as the ICPC. The competition had 5 hours to complete 12 questions, which were a mix of programming problems and algorithm design problems. The competition was open to anyone, with no entry fee.
We had 43 registered competitors and a total of 113 unique submissions. The competition was quite successful and we received a lot of positive feedback from the participants. Many of the participants were not from UTS, which was also great to see.
We decided to run a competition for a few reasons. Firstly, we wanted to give back to the programming community. We think that competitions are a great way to learn and improve your skills, solving problems that don't commonly come up when programming but are invaluable to know how to solve. Secondly, we wanted to promote our society. UTS ProgSoc is a programming society at the University of Technology Sydney and whilst it is over 30 years old and has a long-standing history of educating and teaching students programming, we still have a lot of room to grow. We have a lot to offer students, so we thought this would be a great way to reach out to more people.
How we chose our partners
We chose our partners for the competition very carefully. We wanted to make sure that we had companies who were willing to invest in our event and who would be able to provide valuable prizes for our winners. We also wanted to make sure that our partners were companies who would be able to promote our event to their networks and who would be able to provide us with the resources we needed to make our event a success.
We ultimately decided to partner with WiseTech Global. WiseTech Global is a leading provider of software and services for the logistics and transportation industry. They have a strong commitment to supporting the next generation of programmers and have a history of supporting programming competitions. They were the perfect partner for us, as they were able to provide valuable prizes for our winners and help us promote our event to their networks.
We are very grateful to have WiseTech Global as a partner for our competition and we are looking forward to working with them again in the future.
How we recruited students
When we decided to run a programming competition, we knew that we needed to get the word out to as many students as possible. We reached out to the student societies at our university as well as professors, and they were more than happy to help us promote the competition.
To get the word out to as many students as possible, we set up a Facebook page and an Humanitix page for the competition. We promoted the competition through our university's student portal, through ProgSoc's mailing list as well as a global UTS FEIT Facility email for TechFest as a whole. In the weeks leading up to the competition, we did our best to drum up interest and excitement for the event.
On the day of the competition, we were thrilled to see so many students come out to participate. We had a great turnout, and the competition ran smoothly thanks to all of the hard work our team put in. We were so happy to see so many students enjoying themselves and testing their skills. In the end, we had a great competition and we're already looking forward to next year's event!
Marketing earlier and effectively with multiple reminders leading up to the competition as well as a monetary prize was essential to the success. Facility support was also essential, with the majority of our sign-ups coming from mentions by professors in advanced-level computing courses. Shoutout to Angela Huo & Luke Mathieson for making this possible, without them this competition would've been impossible to organize.
What the competition looked like
Our hackathon was a 5-hour event held at UTS. We had over 30 students from all over Sydney come to participate. Unlike most competitions, we were relaxed in our approach allowing internet access & phones but with us manually checking code to avoid plagiarism.
We had a total of 12 questions, all with score decay, based on minutes. This made it so that the team who completed the questions in the shortest amount of time would be the winner. The questions were a mix of algorithm, data structures & programming questions with the aim to be doable by any 1st or 2nd-year student.
We had a great turnout many students from different universities competing and WiseTech Global provided some great prizes for the top 3 teams including:
- $1000 for 1st place
- $600 for 2nd place
- $400 for 3rd place
- Merchandise + Certificates for all participants
Overall, the competition ran smoothly and we received some great feedback from the students who competed.
What we learned
Organizing and running a programmer's competition is no small feat. It takes months of planning, coordination, and execution to pull off a successful event. But it's also an incredibly rewarding experience, both for the organizers and the participants.
We learned a lot from our experience organizing and running the UTS ProgSoc Programming Competition. Here are some of the things we learned:
1. Planning is key
No matter how good your team is, if you don't plan properly, the competition will be a disaster. You need to plan for every eventuality and have contingency plans in place for when things go wrong.
2. Coordination is crucial
There are a lot of moving parts in a competition and everything needs to run like clockwork. That means good coordination between the different teams and individuals involved.
3. Execution is everything
Even the best-laid plans can fall apart if the execution is poor. That's why it's so important to have a team of dedicated and experienced people who can make sure everything runs smoothly on the day.
4. It's all about the participants
At the end of the day, the competition is all about the participants. They are the ones who will remember the event for years to come. That's why it's so important to make sure they have a positive experience.
5. Feedback is essential
You can't improve if you don't know what went wrong. That's why it's so important to get feedback from the participants, both positive and negative. It's the only way to ensure that the next competition is even better.
We did it! We organized and ran a successful programmers competition with the help of UTS & WiseTech Global. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. We had a great turnout and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.
We want to give a big thank you to the UTS FEIT facility for their help in organizing and running the competition. Without their help, it would not have been possible. We also want to thank WiseTech Global for their support. They provided us with some great prizes for the winners as well as catering and we are very grateful.
Thank you to everyone who participated and helped make this competition a success. We hope to see you all again next year!