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African Leadership University CS Hackathon

Paul Arah
Originally published at alucsblog.com ・3 min read

Introduction

The African Leadership University CS hackathon is an annual event where students leverage technology to create solutions to a problem within the niche of the chosen theme. Our team was made up of Ahmed Meshref, Wenseslaus Raphael, and Paul Arah; all third-year computer science students at the African Leadership University. We’ve been part of the winning team since the inception of the Hackathon last year.
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Our team pitching at the 2020 edition of the hackathon

Our Process

This year’s theme was around building solutions for the Art, Entertainment and Recreation industry to recover the impact of COVID-19. Our task was to come up with a solution that helps the Art, Entertainment, and Recreation Industry to fast-track recovery efforts from the impact COVID-19.

We started off the problem-solving process by first understanding the requirements and brainstorming on different solutions before converging on one.
Our google Jamboard for brainstorming
Our google Jamboard for brainstorming

There were diverse views on how we should approach the solution to the challenge. Some team members felt we should go with a more “hackathon worthy” solution ― something that probably hasn’t been implemented before and uses the newest shiny tech. Some team members felt that we should go with a simple, straightforward solution that solved the problem. Ultimately, simplicity won. We settled for a simple solution and tried to ensure our solution encapsulated all important aspects of the problem like government policies, revenue generation, inclusivity, and long term sustainability after the pandemic.

Our solution was an event booking platform that allows consumers of art, entertainment, and recreational activities to make reservations for both online and in-person events. Additionally, consumers could buy artworks and tip creatives.

After deciding on what our solution was, we split the project based on our team members strength and skill sets. Wenseslaus made the design mockups, the slides, research, and everything in between that we needed to give a good pitch. Ahmed built the backend, and Paul built the frontend. Links to our slide deck, design and live implementation can be found at the bottom of this blog post.

Lessons and Conclusions

One of the biggest takeaways for us as a team on the technical side was ensuring we kept things minimal considering the constraints of a hackathon. We probably did not need a fully-fledged backend. A client app querying against an in-memory data structure like an array or object would’ve easily met our needs. Adding a fully-fledged backend and database, introduced a lot of complexities we had to deal with in one night and we finally ended up discarding the backend we built.

The pandemic has denied us the thrill of collaborating and pitching in person. Nevertheless, It was an exciting experience and a breath of fresh air collaborating outside academic work. Hopefully, next year’s edition gets to be in-person.

Special thanks to the Computer Science faculty, other competing teams and everyone that played a role in making the hackathon a success.

The original link to the article can be found on the African Leadership University, Computer Science Faculty blog.

Resources

Link to our slide deck
Link to our prototype design
Link to the live implementation

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