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Tertiary Hackathon Day  28th March 2020

Tertiary Hackathon Day
28th March 2020

To grow or to slow?

In the climate of fear and instability caused by the Covid-19 epidemic, the Prudential Young Trailblazers Competition (PYTB) were faced with the pertinent question – to grow or to slow down?

A game changing characteristic of a trailblazer is one who sees every threat as an opportunity. For Acorn, as the organisers for this cutting-edge competition on innovation, this situation has become a true test if we are truly able to practice what we preach.

Rather than simply choose the easy way out and call it quits, Acorn rallied together and synergised a new way to do Hackathon Day – Online. Here is the run down –

First up, a whole host of different technologies was exploited. Be it group chats, broadcast, interactive webinars and virtual discussion rooms. While these cannot beat face-to-face communication, these technologies allowed trainings and brainstorming sessions to go on unhindered.

Quality was maintained via the input of professionals in the various fields as well. Be it the technical support for filming, editing and scripting or the trainer themselves. These allowed the content to be disseminated in a timely fashion and still maintain a level of interaction as well as comprehension.

With all the above in place, there remained the problem of coordination. From schools onsite, students in their homes and industry mentor online, there were many connections that had to be made on the day proper. This went on without a hiccup thanks to

  1. The industry mentors who skillfully managed their own domains
  2. Team Mentors that guided each team, providing constructive feedback in a timely fashion
  3. Satellite ICs who saw to it that every team stayed on task and had access to help if necessary

It must be highlighted that the participants who proactively came aboard also made the transition online a lot easier. Being digital natives, most students were able to adapt seamlessly to the new technologies activated and this allowed discussions and proposals to move forward effectively.

While the Hackathon Day was a success in the end, we acknowledge the challenges that we faced along the way. As the spread of the virus increased, so did the measures to curtail any form of mass gatherings. From doubts of the feasibility of the entire competition, to the shortage of face masks, thermometers and the like. And finally, the whole shift to an online platform, coordinating multiple locations, hosting the webinar as well as the 150 participants behind their screens.

This year’s PYTB has been an interesting one and the learning curve has been steep for everyone. Despite all this, at Acorn we believe in having a growth mindset, one that celebrates small wins and relies on the collective synergy of team. While postponing or even cancelling the event was a possibility, we never saw that as an option. We hope that the resilience and innovation our team has demonstrated in the last few months and the months to come will inspire every PYTB participant to even greater aspirations in their own trailblazing journey.

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