My name is Adrianno Fallone and I am a 16-year-old student attending St. Joseph’s Catholic High School in Windsor, Ontario. Over this past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of participating in the BorderHacks inaugural cross-border hackathon and I am excited to share my experience.
I first heard about this event from lead organizer, Noah Campbell and President/CEO of WEtech Alliance, Yvonne Pilon. They knew that I had an interest in STEM and they recommended that I take part in BorderHacks. Having experienced this wonderful event, I am so thankful that they did. Over the last three days, participants of the hackathon had the opportunity to attend educational workshops, hone technical and professional skills, work on a thrilling project, and think like a problem solver, all from the comfort of their own home. Not to mention, competitors were able to make new connections and hear from very talented people within the tech industry via the event’s online streams and Discord server.
The weekend kicked off on Friday with a welcome speech from the lead organizers of BorderHacks. Then, challenge prompts were posted and the hacking began. Being a high school student, I definitely didn’t know everything about algorithms and data structures coming into the event, so it was comforting to know that there was an entire team of mentors to support me in any questions I had. There were a variety of challenges that participants could submit projects for. Some of the main themes included mobility, health, and mobile apps. Prizes were awarded to winners of the challenges, and these were made possible by the sponsors of the event.
Aside from providing a platform to build solutions to real-world issues, BorderHacks streamed several workshops for participants to tune into. Some of the technical workshops focused on things like building cloud connected AR apps and the strange nature of quantum computers. I personally attended many of these and gained a plethora of information. In addition, there were also many workshops based around developing professional/personal skills. From these lessons, I learned the importance of communication, engineering a strong portfolio, networking, and more. During the “Professional Development Workshop,” I acquired the knowledge to build a better resume as well as how to effectively land jobs and internships. This was really beneficial because school often doesn’t teach us these much needed skills and I don’t think that I would have ever learned them in the traditional classroom. Throughout the course of the “Technical Communications Workshop,” key ideas were brought up, such as having empathy for others and seeking to understand those around you. The greatest solutions come from working together as a team and this workshop showed us how we can best do that.
After the workshops finished Saturday night, hackers had less than 12 hours to complete their projects. We were busy writing those last lines of code and perfecting our prototypes all through the night. When the deadline finally rolled around, everyone submitted their amazing creations. Later in the day, winners were announced and projects were shared with the entire group of participants. It was a great learning opportunity seeing the innovative solutions that my like-minded peers from around the world were able to come up with in just 36 hours.
BorderHacks was my very first hackathon and it was one of the most influential experiences of my entire life. This event has helped me decide exactly what I want to pursue after high school and has given me more clarity on my strengths. Though I did not win any prizes, I received an award greater than anything; a weekend filled with fun, learning, and opportunity. BorderHacks changed my perspective of technology for the better and I am so glad that I attended this memorable hackathon.
Adrianno Fallone is a highschool student in WindsorEssex passionate about technology and engineering. He is an extremely bright honour-roll student that has held cooperative education placements in some of Windsor’s finest technology and manufacturing companies while engaging in full time academic and extracurricular activities. Adrianno serves as the official Highschool Ambassador to BorderHacks.
BorderHacks is the region’s first-ever bi-national hackathon hosted in conjunction with the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, WEtech Alliance, the Consulate of the United States in Toronto, and Major League Hacking. BorderHacks 2020 welcomed over 600 students to engage with over 16 exciting challenges culminating in over $25,000 in prizes and cross-border mobility solutions. The event also saw participation from a variety of industry partners such as WaveDirect, BlackBerry, Rocket Innovation Studios, OneLedger, Audacia Bioscience, and many more. BorderHacks served as the launching point for the Women in Mobility Speaker Series powered by RISE WindsorEssex and the Consulate of the United States in Toronto that will conclude at the annual RISE Summit in February 2021.
To watch over 35 hours of content delivered at BorderHacks, visit: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAuxZdONohCLg_BLZCHRi9A