The First Ever Student Design Team Essay

The First Ever Student Design Team Essay

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Although we had been working on it diligently for several months, RoboHacks did not seem "real" until it actually happened. Even then, the impact of what we had achieved took a while to fully manifest itself in our minds. It was a novel experience in many ways, due in part to the fact that (to our knowledge) we were the first ever student design team in North America to host its own hackathon. Beyond that, we were atypical even within the normally software-based hackathon community because we chose to incorporate an additional element -- hardware -- into RoboHacks. Working on this project was an incredible journey. We wish to share our story with Forces AVENIR.
For us, the best part of RoboHacks was the knowledge that we managed to enable our participants to gain tremendous insight into themselves and their relationships with technology. One of our participants described RoboHacks as “a gateway into the world of mechanics”; another said it “erased [her] insecurities about going into [engineering]”. We even influenced a participant to add a mechatronics specialization to his desired major in university. As is made evident by the comments we received from our younger participants, we have spread enthusiasm for robotics among the CÉGEP community in Montréal. In addition to that, we are thrilled to have done the same throughout North America – our attendees hailed from all over the continent (Yale, Waterloo, and MIT, among many others).
A recently emerging (and unfortunate) trend within the hackathon community is a tendency to move away from a friendly learning environment and toward a tense, competitive one. Obviously, hackathons by nature have a competitive element; at RoboHacks, we aimed to revitalize and emphasize the educational ...

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...ortunities. We were able to gain valuable administrative skills such as ensuring efficient communication, prioritizing tasks, and generally keeping organized. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the event, we were enlightened to the importance of encouraging innovation in young adults, especially those who are on the cusp of entering the academic and/or professional world. During RoboHacks, we were able to see, in real time, confidence gradually develop in young adults who might have initially felt intimidated by the idea of a hardware hackathon, or by the skill level of some of their fellow participants. Hearing from some of our younger participants about this newfound confidence and enthusiasm for something we are all passionate about -- robotics -- has been immensely rewarding. We are all incredibly eager to see this project develop further in the years to come.

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