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Tel Aviv University and organize a successful hackathon

Blog: Monday Project Management Blog

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in an attempt to keep their students and faculty safe, schools were at first to restrict students and force them into states of remote learning. Although online learning can present the same content in class, the lack of community initiatives and projects foster an isolationist and stagnant culture, where students miss out on the intellectual benefits of teamwork.

Team-based projects present the opportunity to shatter those COVID-caused bonds, leading to collaborative and high-spirited classes, libraries, and most importantly, students. They open up numerous doors to learn necessary soft-skills for working in the real world. In these types of projects we normally need to work with people that are new to us, each with potentially different interests, in environments that we don’t know much about and facing strict deadlines.

Hackers at their tables

On May 12-13, 2022 in conjunction with the Computer Science Club (CS) at Tel Aviv University (TAU), organized a hackathon to foster a synergetic workspace for young students. A hackathon is an intense coding event where small teams (3-5 people) create and pitch an innovative software implementation using’s collaborative platform. Oh, and they also had 24 hours to complete it all.

Did we say it was intense? Ofek Feller, co-leader of the CS club at TAU, underscored the importance of the hackathon on teamwork. A 24-hour hackathon for the ages, open to all club members, to “connect with other high tech companies in Israel and create some activities [that gives students practical experience”, said Feller. There was a clear need for practical experience, as the CS course at TAU is extremely “theoretical” and that “there was not any extra activity for [CS] students to connect us with the industry”, so Feller and the other club leaders desired that there would be this hands-on experience that can give students a small taste of the real world.

Feller commented further on the practical nature of the Hackathon. “It is a great opportunity to let you experience working as a real software engineer… sitting in a team, between 3 to 5 people, and thinking about some idea that bothers them, an idea that should help them as students”, proclaimed Feller.

The students at the Hackathon learned how to design and code the product, how to implement it and how to present their invention to the judges. This experiment is invaluable for a university student because it forces them to break out of the lull of course life. The courses are “focused primarily on tests and grades”, uttered Feller, but the hackathon “was the best experience they have had during their academic period.” A hackathon invigorates a student and lets “people disconnect” from courses, leading to immense learning opportunities.

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