reflections on the value of hackathon experiences

Hackathons are unique in our current world of conferences, trade fairs, and industry events in that they are not simply about "presenting," "showing" or "discussing" topics. Hackathons are about "doing" in the rawest sense of the term.  They are about laying down the desire to fantasize and argue over ideas, and confront the real challenges of turning them into usable tools, workflows, and pieces of software.

Most of us are aware that many of the people that we label as famous inventors in our culture were not the first ones to have the idea that they are credited with.  They were simply the first ones to turn a collective idea in to a reality by bringing together experts who each had different sets of knowledge to contribute to the solution.  This is exactly what hackathons do by bringing together knowledgeable people from different companies to test the validity of solutions that rarely are the idea of one individual.

For this reason, there are so many wonderful tools that I use in my daily work and would simply not exist without hackathons.  In my opinion, all of best and most rewarding events in the industry are hackathons and I am very much looking forward to participating in this upcoming one for the Boston AEC community.

More about the Payette team's notable performance at the TT CORE AEC Hackathon last Decemeber in this blog post.


Chris Mackey


Not being from a coding background, I was a little skeptical about what my contribution at a hackathon might be.  Looking back on the whole experience however, I think it was really helpful to be able to share a different perspective with some of the more technical participants.  It was a great opportunity to meet an amazing collection of big thinkers and more importantly do-ers!  I came with a few coworkers which made it all a bit easier to put myself out there and we ended up partnering with a few folks from other offices.  The hackathon allowed our team to make some significant progress on a workflow that we had been curious about exploring in the office, but never had time!  It also gave us an opportunity to see what other firms were working on, learn some new skills, and witness what was on the horizon for future trends in the AEC industry.

Read about Chris' experience HERE.


Chris Winkler

Sasaki Associates

The following excerpt is from a blog post about Kyle's first hackathon:

I registered with the goal of teaming up with technology enthusiasts and individuals from other disciplines to see if I could help develop a solution for some of the pain points frequently encountered during the design and documentation process. My hope was that I could leverage my knowledge and experience to learn something from those more familiar with the software side of the industry.

...the winners were announced and we were thrilled to find out that we took second place, largely in part because of the practicality of the problem we chose and the willingness to share our solution as open source.


Kyle Martin

Tocci Building Co.