This past weekend, history was made in the Windsor-Essex innovation ecosystem with WinHacks.
WinHacks, the University of Windsor’s first-ever hackathon, made the decision to go digital on about one week’s notice.
For those who don’t know, a hackathon is an event, typically lasting several days, in which many people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.
WinHacks, inspired tech talent locally to get involved in our technology community, ultimately contributing to unlocking the potential of our future programmers, hackers, and designers so that we all make a difference. Around 400 students joined us on this three-day event, where all participants were given 36 hours to come up with their greatest hack.
The theme for this hackathon was Mobility. Students were free to interpret the theme however they want as it could relate to mobility in healthcare, fin-tech, automation, supply chain logistics and more! Participants were given the opportunity to come up with their greatest creation that will be later presented and judged by a panel of qualified adjudicators and win top tech and cash prizes! Educational events such as workshops to help hone and adopt new skills in the field of computer science were also on the agenda in addition to the opportunity to interact with recruiters and technical representatives of the region and the nation’s top tech companies. Crucially,
WinHacks was also declared a Major League Hacking 2020 Member Event, the first ever at the University of Windsor. MLH is a global organization that legitimizes hackathons around the world, including Waterloo’s Hack the North, Canada’s largest hackathon, giving WinHacks an important distinction in its inaugural year.
|Attendee Institution Level Breakdowns||30% High School|
50% University Undergraduate
|Gender Breakdown (Attendee)||65% Male|
|Gender Breakdown (Judges)||50% Male|
|Gender Breakdown |
|Attendee Location||70% Canadian|
25% United States
5% Other (India, Russia & Poland)
Moreover, pivoting to the times, with the help of WEtech Alliance and the Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation, we even launched a COVID-19 challenge to put students to work to #FlattenTheCurve. As I said to CBC Windsor’s Chris Ensing, the students participating in WinHacks are not the students lounging around on beaches in Florida, these are the students who will deal with the economic fallout of COVID-19 as they prepare to enter the workforce. They were asked to create solutions and they delivered.
From a live recruiter Q&A with BlackBerry’s entire Campus Talent Acquisition team, to a Google Cloud Hero Competition, informative workshops, and a cyber-security capture the flag challenge, students were well equipped with the skills they needed to succeed. Many of these challenges helped to bridge the gaps for students who may not receive these types of experiential learning opportunities everyday in the classroom. As the need for a more diverse and robust tech talent pipeline is required, empowering students with key skills in a memorable method is critical. Students then had the opportunity to put these newfound skills to the test in their very own submissions that ranged from 18 different challenges and categories.
To make this happen, organizers created a fully interactive platform so that hackers can still have access to chat rooms, question and answer sessions, video and voice calls. The whole point of the event was to celebrate our students and participants and we believe going fully digital will still allowed us to achieve that goal. By offering workshops streamed live on Twitch.tv and setting up interactive challenges and opportunity for collaboration on our customized Discord platform, we made this event available to a wider range of high school students, undergraduate, graduate, and college students from across Canada and the United States. The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to our broadcasts. With 6,019 unique live views and 200,664 minutes of programming watched, individuals from around the world were able to come together and be apart of the YQG innovation community from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
There were over 400 active participants (individuals who worked to submit projects rather than only partake in workshops and events) and 77 submissions for solutions! Its important to note that per MLH, a typical in-person hackathon sees about 70 submissions with 500 participants, showcasing the flexibility and record-setting contributions to WinHacks.
Let’s break down these submissions and take a look at the winners of each category:
Best Use of Google Cloud (powered by MLH):
Stressed, tired, or just having a great day? Record your thoughts and submit your audio log to generate a Spotify playlist based on your mood.
Best Domain registered with Domain.com (powered by MLH):
Are you at risk for COViD-19? Find out by listing all the places you’ve visited in the last 14 days, and we’ll compare those to the travel history of known cases!
Best UiPath Automation Hack (powered by MLH):
Mobilizing necessities with the help of the community.
Best Sustainability and Social Impact Hack (powered by Fiix Software):
A sustainable peer-to-peer transportation app to make you move it move it.
City of Windsor Traffic Data Challenge (powered by The City of Windsor and Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation):
An analysis, visualizer, and dashboard of Windsor’s busiest intersections.
Most Innovative Hack Against COVID-19 (powered by APMA Canada, Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation & WEtech Alliance):
A platform to help Canadians efficiently and securely gain funds from the government during the COVID-19 crisis.
Most Practical and Impactful Solution (powered by EPICentre, University of Windsor):
An emergency care app to assist those in the community that are in need of assistance or at high risk with no means to access help in a pandemic.
Most Launchable Hack (powered by St. Clair Genesis Entrepreneurship Centre):
Your only crypto companion.
Miovision Travel Time Challenge (powered by Miovision & Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation):
A real-time traffic prediction platform to allow stakeholders to optimize path of travel, utilizing Uber’s data visualization technology stack with Miovision’s and City of Windsor’s data set.
People’s Choice Awards (powered by Digital Ocean and the University of Windsor):
1st Place: taxmaps
Helping Canadians understand where their taxes are going using customized data visualization!
2nd Place: #corona
An interactive map that displays sentiment around COVID-19 across the world, which helps public health officials see what government policies are well-received and which are not.
3rd Place: connec-ted
he protec, he attac, but most importantly, he connec
Beyond being a first of its kind event in Windsor, WinHacks made history with some key metrics highlighted below:
Not to be understated, by partnering with Build a Dream and BB Branded to provide swag to attendees and EZY Mode Gaming to offer live e-sports tournaments/programming throughout the event, WinHacks was able to support local organizations right here at home at a time when its needed most.
As we continue to transform Windsor into an automobility and cyber-security hub of innovation excellence, events like WinHacks build the groundwork to ensuring students, the future of the region, are well supported and equipped to innovate and drive development both of talent, entrepreneurship, and economic development in Windsor-Essex.
To learn more about WinHacks, including the organizations behind it, visit, winhacks.ca.