Can you hack it?

Smart students mark the date long in advance: our annual Hacking@Nedap hackathon. Missing it is missing out.

Outside in the Japanese garden, all is still. Gold-colored koi fish glide silently across the pond underneath a lone Bonsai tree. How different to the buzz and bustle inside, where 36 students are getting ready to test their mettle in the challenge of challenges: our Hacking@Nedap hackathon.

This is the second edition of this special event. Organized together with Saxion University of Applied Sciences, it is open to software engineering students in their fourth and final year at Saxion. “There is a true culture of innovation here and students are really challenged,” says Hesther van Leeuwen, Saxion education manager.

Expectations are high, as are adrenaline levels. From 12 noon, the students have 24 hours to come up with a solution to one of three challenges in the big data, IoT and app development. The teams get to work right away. There are urgent whispers and scribbled notes as they confer on how to proceed.

By mid-afternoon one group hits the pool table for some inspiration while others boost waning brain power with free supplies of chocolate and caffeine. Wouter Krake is working on how to improve security sensors in stores. It’s his first hackathon. “The rest don’t know what they’re missing,” he says. As for their chances of beating the competition? “We’re in it to win it.”

Each challenge is based on a real case. One of these involves building a new mobile health app from scratch. Feedback on an existing app showed that users wanted a more integrated way to input and manage patient metrics. The aim? To ensure that professionals can focus on the patient instead of on the tools.

 

This is the challenge that Pieter Zeilstra is working on. The best thing about the hackathon? “Knowing that you’re going to make something really cool in a very short amount of time,” he says. “It’s definitely something that you want to have experienced.” Teun Dozeman likes the fact that they can get instant feedback from people in the field. For Pieter, it’s also a great way to get a sense of what the company does. He’s surprised at the scope, developing and supplying smart systems for a wide range of markets such as: security, retail, healthcare, livestock management, light controls and staffing solutions.

The students officially have until 11 pm before they go back to their hotel. “If they’re smart, they’ll carry on into the night, especially if they’re in a flow,” says Erik Huizinga. As an Android developer, he’s leading the app design challenge. He’s also one of the judges. What’s he looking for in the winning team? “Something I couldn’t have come up with. And functionality. It’s really about value for the end-user,” he says. The first prize is a Raspberry Pi starter kit. “But winning an event like this is also a great way to get noticed and looks good on your resumé,” Erik adds. Perhaps the coolest of all is the chance that your solution could end up being used, or you could even land an internship or job here.