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HackKing's success for students

On 23 February, the KCL Tech Society organised King's' largest ever Informatics event: HackKing's, the most successful first-time student-run hackathon in the UK.

A hackathon is, in the most basic way explained, a place where computer scientists, programmers, developers and designers come together to come up with an idea for an app, website, software or machine and build it all within a limited amount of time, usually 24 hours. At the end of the event, ideas can be rewarded based on certain criteria (funniest, best design, etc.) but must be rewarded based on the how successful the idea is, and the final product that each team has at the end of that period of time.

Prizes vary from one hackathon to the other. Some hackathons give out cash prizes, others give out gift vouchers. But HackKing's was rather unique, thanks to some of the biggest and most successful companies that sponsored the event. For example:

  • Facebook was giving out a Facebook branded prize to attendees every hour, including tshirts, water bottles, stationery sets, a custom bluetooth speaker and even blankets;
  • Codeacademy gave the grand prize winners Skype interviews for paid summer internships at their US headquarters, for which they would also cover the cost of flights;
  • Onfinder offered the grand prize winner office space in central London;
  • Index Ventures offered a £15,000 investment to the most impressive idea;
  • Just-Eat provided the dinner for the event, and also gave a £100 voucher to the best use of their software public interface;
  • SendGrid face wireless bluetooth speakers to two teams;
  • TreeHouse and LiveCode gave out half a dozen subscriptions

"We accomplished so much more than we thought. We attracted 100 developers and designers who were creating some of the most incredible applications, devices and software that I have ever heard of or seen," commented Fares Alaboud, one of the main organisers of the event. "We met so many people from different companies. Some of us were even offered job and internship opportunities at the event!"

Attendees came in from across the country: students from the Universities of Manchester, Southampton, Nottingham, St. Andrew's and Oxford joined more local students from London universities including SOAS, Imperial College London, Goldsmiths, City University, University College London and Brunel.

"Our aim is to connect the students in the tech community, not just at King's, but the whole country," Fares said. "HackKing's is a testament to what the incredible talent in the UK can achieve in just 24 hours. It's giving talented students an opportunity to create a portfolio of their work, and they get to show off what they could create in a very limited amount of time. The launch of our next project, HackCampus, aims to make sure students in the UK don't ever miss a cool tech talk, hack or meet up, just because they didn't hear about it - we aim to connect them all."

"This is only our first year as a society and I can't wait to see what else KCL Tech will achieve in the years to come. These are exciting times to be a part of the student tech community."

Watch the video of HackKing's now.

You can follow the KCL Tech Society on Twitter, and see their events, including more photos via their Facebook page.