Why would you participate in a hackathon?

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Apr 19, 2018

People talking about hackathons near laptops, NVIDIA Jetson Developer Challenge - interviews

The dust after NVIDIA Jetson™ Developer Challenge slowly settles down, the emotions are being contained, the last minute adrenaline rush is over. This, however, does not mean it’s time to close the book and don’t look back. We’ve interviewed the finalists to get more insight into the challenge from their perspective, as it’s their point of view that matters the most. If you are to participate in a similar event you will want to know exactly how it feels. But why would you want to do that in the first place?


Challenges like this one are difficult, tiring, take months to prepare for, and the risk of not winning any prize is high. Yet, for one reason or another, over two thousand people decided to take part in the NVIDIA Jetson™ Developer Challenge. We will try to find out why. After months of brainstorming, problem-solving, innovating, and being under constant pressure of time, the participants can relax, take a deep breath, and reflect on their achievements. We wanted to get to know the finalists more personally, so, naturally, we first asked them to tell us their stories. Most of them are still students, all passionate about robotics, computers, engineering, and AI. For some this challenge was the first time they’ve had the chance to develop a project that uses Artificial Intelligence, for others it was a known field. While experience certainly does help, it’s clear you can achieve a lot without it too.


Amit Kharwandikar, one of the creators of Avitra said:

“When we first heard about the challenge, we were attracted by its global exposure and the chance to work on the Jetson GPU. We had heard about its computational capabilities and found the challenge as a perfect opportunity to test it out.”


Amit Kharwandikar Challenge Jetson GPU Avita project

pictured: Amit Kharwandikar with teammates and robot Avitra


Ayman Saleh & Khalid Khalil, authors of TITUS share why they’ve taken interest in the NVIDIA Jetson™ Developer Challenge:

We are both competitors at the end of the day, and as engineers, we do not get the chance to compete very often, so taking this opportunity to participate in the NVIDIA challenge was a no-brainer. We also love NVIDIA and the platforms they develop like Jetson, so getting the chance to design and build a project for NVIDIA to see was awesome.”


Ayman Saleh TITUS GPU Conference

pictured: Khalid Khalil on GPU Technology Conference


Passion alone, however, is not the only incentive for them to take part in hackathons, as expanding their resumes, gaining experience, recognition, and, of course, winning money, are equally tempting. Those are the benefits you should expect too when participating in such an event.


As Brad Larson says:

“This competition has been hugely useful for everyone on our side. It gave us the structure and motivation to complete a proof-of-principle and taught us a tremendous amount about the Jetson TX1 / TX2 hardware. [...] Beyond all that, the exposure from being a finalist in the competition has been transformative for our companies and is already helping us out in many ways.”


Brad Larson - NVIDIA jetson developer challenge finalist

pictured: Brad Larson


It’s not a secret that the finalists enjoy hackathons or not, of course they do, they wouldn’t have taken part in this challenge otherwise, but each and every one of them feel that way for their own reasons. For some it’s the adrenaline rush, or the ability to showcase their skills and creations, for others it’s the ability to develop new skills or work towards a given goal in a very specific environment. Whatever the reason, they all are passionate about what they do, and this certainly is one of the key traits that helped them reach the top in the contest.



Are you willing to commit to such a challenge? Finalists of the NVIDIA Jetson™ Developer Challenge are the prime example of why you definitely should! Only the best of the best will manage to take it all, but the reward makes it all worth it. Don’t wait a minute longer, pick a hackathon for yourself. Become a part of the ChallengeRocket family today!