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Illustration by Shamma Almansoori

The HackNyuad Experience

Have you ever wondered what joining a hackathon might be like or what it takes to win one? This year, HackAD hosted its own NYUAD exclusive hackathon for students of every class year. The Gazelle explores what the event was all about.

Nov 28, 2021

A dark lounge. Blinders down. The only sounds that can be heard are keyboard clicks. On one sofa there are two guys with their eyes glued onto their laptop screens. On another sofa, another one is busy fiddling with his pen, drawing something on an empty piece of paper. This might sound like another day for some NYUAD students. However, these are not your typical engineering or computer science majors. They are fierce and glory-hungry competitors in a hackathon with only 24 hours in their hands, caffeinated beyond their wildest minds, and in focus mode so deep that if the world was ending, they would still be glued to their seats.
This was reportedly the experience of joining HackNyuad, a 24 hours hackathon organized for New York University Abu Dhabi students 2 weeks ago. From Friday morning until Saturday afternoon, participants of 21 teams came up with innovative ideas to solve some pre-existing problems, whose themes belonged to one of these categories: Education, Health Care, Sustainability, and Inclusion and Diversity. Winners were picked by a panel of judges consisting of NYUAD professors and teaching assistants. The rubrics for their judging were based on the relevancy of the project to the themes, their usefulness and applicability, the technologies used to build a prototype or a proof of concept and finally, a 3 minutes presentation with 1 to 2 minutes of Q&A. The prizes for the top 3 winners were HackAD swags with a chance to be fast-tracked to an interview to join the NYUAD InnoVention Competition 2022.
At 10:30 am Friday, there was a commencement Zoom call organized by HackAD for all participants to explain the rules of the hackathon and give tips on how to form ideas and how to build a prototype. At 11 am, the Zoom call ended and came the time for ideation. This was essentially a grace period before the event finally started, and was used as a time for teams to discuss ideas. 2 PM was when the hackathon officially began. It was time for hackers to bring their ideas into reality. For the next 24 hours, it would be constant coding, YouTube tutorials, drawing UIs, revising ideas, etc. At 2 PM on the following day, hackers submitted their projects. However, it was not time to relax just yet as the hacking had not ended. Hackers still had to present their projects to the judges at 5 PM. At 6 PM, after all the teams had presented, the winners were announced.
The Gazelle reached out to Dhurba Tripathi, Class of 2024 and a participant from the team that won, to talk about his experience hacking. “The experience was awesome … like, 24 hours of intense work,” he said. “You have to come up with an idea that’s new … that has a positive impact on the community… and it also has to HELP people, not just doing whatever you want [without thinking about the impact].”
According to him, the kind of experience you need most to win is not at all technical. “It’s more about solving a problem than just coding skills, you know?” said Dhurba. “So basically, [to win] the first thing you need is collaboration skill,” he continued. “You need to decide on a workflow, like using Github… if not, you’re basically going to drag your team down, you know?”
“And also, the skills you have should be common to the team,” he continued, “[if] you know… let’s say IOS development, and I know Android development … they’re not gonna work.” He also shared with us his team’s presentation video, which he showed the judges in the 3 minutes his team was allotted for the presentation.
Dhurba received swags from HackAD for winning, which included stickers, masks, tote bags, etc. More excitingly, he and his team received a fast-tracked interview opportunity with startAD to pitch their idea to enter InnoVention 2022, a startup competition with prizes from $3000 in the local round and up to $50000 in the global round.
Nghia Nim is Deputy News Editor. Email them at
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