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I Survived the PennApps Hackathon (And Have Pictures To Prove It)!

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Posted on 02/23/2016

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S17v4KVVA few weeks ago I competed in the PennApps hackathon. It was an exciting experience and I learned a lot about both hackathons and Philadelphia!

PennApps is the name for the hackathon group over at University of Pennsylvania, who put together and host a 48-hour long hackathon weekend.

So I arrived with my team (fellow CU students Jessie Albarian, Michael V. Swisher and Miranda) in Philly 4 hours early so we would have time to walk (to save money, because taxi/Uber/Lyft = $$$). We saw a bunch of neat old buildings with hardly any snow around:

arriving at the pennapps hackathon

When we arrived, we promptly found a spot in one of UPenn’s hallways in their Engineering building. It was crowded and chaotic but a great spot:

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We spent the next 35 hours working on our project, “Patches,” a website and app combo that will help animals get adopted from Humane Societies and Shelters.

But staying up for 35 hours is kinda hard, so we moved to a better spot with more room:

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We managed to snag 3 beds for the 4 of us and took turns getting some sleep. Unfortunately I thought I could make it the whole time, so I didn’t really sleep — until I realized we would have to present. And so, 33 hours in, I finally went took a quick nap at 4:40 am Sunday.

Bright and early at 7:30 am Sunday, we had to get ready to present our creation. This was our setup on our table, trying to get it to look as professional as possible:

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And here is most of the team (except Swish, he’s taking the picture), tired beyond belief. (No showers either!):

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People became very interested once we didn’t get eliminated and made it to the top 30. Overall we placed 30 out of 120+ international teams, with more than 1,000 people attending this event:

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We were tired and ready to go back home, but then a snowstorm hit. It actually got even crazier, I guess, because all flights were canceled.

So with nothing else to do, we explored Philly. This is me at Independence hall (Yeah ‘merica):

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And a picture of a  REALLY big snowman we saw. It was maybe a foot smaller than I am (and I’m 6’2”!) so we had to grab a picture of it:

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More boring tourist-y pictures (and the mysterious 4th teammate):

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Overall, I thought the PennApps hackathon was a pretty great event, with lots of great people, speakers, workshops and mini-events (though I think I missed my SmashBros bracket when I fell asleep).

I might just apply next year for PennApps XIV!

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Author: Spencer Hanson

Spencer Hanson is a Computer Science student at CU Boulder. Born and raised as a native "Coloradoer," some of his unique pastimes include yo-yo'ing, listening to Rush and calculus. Spencer enjoys most everything related to technology and exploring the great outdoors!

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