Cardiff University Students Compete in 36-hour Hackathon


Over the weekend, 40 Computer Science undergraduate students from all years at Cardiff University got their teeth stuck into a real-life brief set by Cardiff technology group Inspiretec.

Organised by the Cardiff University Computer Science Society, the challenge was designed to bring undergraduate students together to focus on using their skills to address a real-life business challenge. The challenge was completed during a fixed 36-hour period, using just the students’ imagination and the resources of the internet.

First thing on Saturday morning, Group Sales & Marketing Director Richard Baker set the task of creating a tool that will help improve a travel experience.

The students representing first, second and third years, were split into teams to tackle the design and build of anything that could help travellers anywhere on the pre, during or post-trip phase.

On Sunday afternoon, the teams, having worked on their ideas all weekend, presented their ideas to Inspiretec team members in a dragon’s den style panel. Winners took home a prize and also won automatic selection for the next intake of Inspiretec interns and graduate recruitment.

Helen Baldwin, Director of HR, said: “It was great to see so many students applying their skills to the task.  There were a few students who had never taken part in a hackathon before so they were learning as they went along and the quality of the final presentations was very impressive.”

“We were delighted to sponsor the event which provided us with insight into how the next generation think about travel.”

Harri Taylor, President of Cardiff University Computer Science Society commented, “We were hoping to encourage a more collaborative spirit from the students of Computer Science, and give students more opportunities to practise skills they have learned during the course in a creative, real-world scenario. We also wanted to develop more of a relationship between Inspiretec and the students of the school.”

“I was thoroughly impressed with the speed that the students were able to formulate interesting solutions to the challenge posed. The students took the task seriously and put in a lot of effort to ensure that their idea was bulletproof. This is very encouraging for us as we are trying to promote more collaboration between students outside of university.”

The students came up with a diverse range of ideas, all of which used current thinking in terms of technical approach whilst maintaining a good end user experience.

Concepts included a budget-driven search tool for student travellers, an app that helps you minimise jet lag and a website that helps you find other like-minded travellers to share experiences.

One of the more avant-garde concepts featured a virtual Geiger counter that calculated, based on real-time flight telemetry data, the amount of cosmic radiation that each passenger is receiving at that very moment in time.

Megan Jevin, Inspiretec Front End Developer and former Cardiff University Computer Science student said: “It’s great to be back at the university working with students, who not too long ago, were in the same position as I was in.”

“The teams all did great. All of the ideas were unique and all had considered the problem from the beginning to the end – just like we would have to do with a real client.”

Inspiretec’s response to the ideas, systems and applications presented by the Cardiff-based students are further testament to the technical and creative skills nurtured in Wales.

Simon Powell, CEO of Inspiretec said: “As a Welsh business, we are fully committed to helping the Welsh economy grow. We are always keen to engage with education providers and offer employment routes and opportunities to skilled IT and software specialists. We are passionate about training graduates from Welsh universities which will in turn, strengthen the calibre of the Welsh technology industry in Wales.”