In the twilight hours of a cold spring Friday, employees of the Watermark Milwaukee office rested their keyboards after two days spent diving into projects of their own choosing. Satisfied at the hacks they had created, they rested up over the weekend. The following Monday the teams presented their projects (shown below) Outcomes Assessment Projects (formerly Aqua) video conference to the whole Watermark team.
At Watermark, we hold multiple hackathons throughout the year to cultivate innovative use of technology. We believe that providing engineers time to dive deep into topics they are interested in provides impressive results. Don’t take our word for it, check out the results:
Watermark Outcomes Assessment Projects (formerly Aqua)
Members: Andy Glassman
Description: At Watermark, we love to do Outcomes Assessment Projects (formerly Aqua) every few weeks. Typically we just ask, and answer questions over teleconference, and Slack. To make this experience even better, Andy worked on Outcomes Assessment Projects (formerly Aqua) app built on bulma.io, vue.js, and Google Firebase. The app leveraged the authorization capabilities of Firebase, and the Firestore to listen to real-time updates to data.
Notes from Team: I was able to create functionality to create, and manage questions. Users could also log in, and use a general, real-time chat room based on the Firestore snapshot listener. I’m hoping to get the full Outcomes Assessment Projects (formerly Aqua) application working in the next few weeks. I learned a lot about Vue.js, and the pros & cons of Google’s Firestore technology.
Spring Planting Planner
Members: Jimmy Pautz
Description: A web-based application that tells you when it is safe to plant different vegetable types based on your area’s last frost date.
Notes from Team: It was great to learn from other DMers. It was also great to have time to spend learning and working with technologies I don’t use in my day-to-day.
Web Audio API
Members: Aaron Seaman
Description: Used the hackathon time to learn the Web Audio API. Created a web based tone generator and sequencer.
Notes from Team: I found that the freedom to work on whatever topic you wanted to be very refreshing. Not being constrained to a specific area or technology stack allowed me to branch out and explore a topic that was completely new to me.
Unity Game Engine
Members: Matt Moulton, Annelise Pronschinske
Description: Dove into learning the Unity game engine API. Created some custom scenes and game logic. This included chains of exploding barrels and flocks of flying birds.
Notes from Team member Anni: I loved that there was a wide array of different projects that everyone was working on and everyone had a different interest. Every hackathon that I’ve been to has had a “theme” where every project has had to follow, but in this hackathon, there were no rules and everyone did something completely different. This also made it surprisingly hard to decide which team/project to be a part of.
Members: Nick Halase
Description: Created an app using React, and Google Firebase. The application tracks what tabletop games are being played around Milwaukee at different gaming locations. Features included the ability to log game plays as an anonymous guest, and then later claim your account.
All the Great Tweets
Members: Jimmy Pautz, Christa Knapp, Derek Fetting, Kyle Halleman
Description: Checks how many tweets the people you follow tweet. Uses the Twitter API.
Notes from Team member Kyle Halleman: I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the hackathon. Having not ever done one before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, being given the time at work to explore some new tech I’ve had my eye on, while also working on a project I’ve had on my mind was really refreshing and a welcome break from normal day-to-day work. I also liked how most of us congregated over by the tables on the other side of the building. I don’t think the hackathon would have been as fun if everyone just worked from their normal desks. Having a change of scenery and also being surrounded by other participants helped cement the idea this was distinct from normal work. I really enjoyed working on a team too especially with people I don’t always get the most interaction with. I initially thought I’d be working on my project alone, but having a team made the experience better in the end.
Web Profiles by College/Department
Members: Anthony Fuger, Fred Steger
Description: Did some experimental work to Faculty Success (formerly Digital Measures) Web Profiles offering, including the ability to display publications for a particular department or college and create a basic faculty directory automatically.
Members: Scott Severtson
Twitter Word Clouds
Members: Derek Fetting
Description: Pull all the tweets for a particular person, and generate a word cloud based on their tweets. The word cloud visually shows which words are commonly used for that twitter account.
Notes from Team: Four people was probably too much for the scope of the first project I worked on (All the Great Tweets). It was a lot more fun to scrape the Tweets with Selenium. I learned how to get a Chrome Webdriver and Selenium installed on a Heroku application.
The creativity doesn’t stop here. Next up: our Austin office hackathon, coming soon!
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