1 The Event.
At the heart of the Waterloo tech community, Communitech supports nearly 1000 tech companies ranging from all stages of growth and development—from startups to tech industry giants.
In addition to supporting the Waterloo tech community, Communitech hosts a yearly competition called "Code/Design to Win" which is an event created to provide exposure and acquire new talent from some of the top students in Canada.
Much like the name suggests, the Code/Design to Win competition features two independent streams with one focusing on programming and the other on product design.
Students looking to take part in the competition (including myself) had to meet certain criteria in order to be able to participate. The conditions required students to be attending an eligible university as selected by Communitech, and the completion of a two-hour preliminary exam corresponding to the stream that the student applied for, which in my case was product design.
I would describe the preliminary exam to be essentially a condensed version of a design sprint. Designers were given a scenario and a problem and were required to propose a solution in the form of a mobile application given certain constraints. They had to provide the solution on paper, which would then be graded over the next few months according to a rubric. Only students within the top percentage margin were given the opportunity to participate in the main competition located at the Communitech Hub in Waterloo, Ontario.
2 The Finalee.
I found out I was selected in early December for the main event, which took place over a weekend in late January and spanned a total of two days, which I'll break down for you below.
The first day of the event was jam-packed with a variety of activities mostly involving learning about Communitech, networking with other attendees, interacting with and visiting the various companies located within the Hub, and finally of course, eating mass amounts of food.
Day 2 (The BIG day)
The second day was by far the most the exciting, the day of the final competition. Starting in the early morning, all 75 designers and coders sat down at their designated seat to begin the final round of the competition at 8:30 AM sharp. I found the final exam to be very similar to the preliminary, only with more constraints and focus on not only creating a solution to a problem but determining use cases and the flow of the application. The final round lasted a few hours and, while we were allowed to use our personal computers, all work had to be submitted on paper.
3 The Gallery.
4 Final Thoughts.
Looking back on the Design To Win event, I feel so fortunate to have had this experience. Not only did I get to familiarize myself with Communitech and the companies within the Hub, I got the opportunity to meet with some of the most talented UX/product designers from across the nation.
5 The Sponsors.
Open source web application
Goal tracking app concept
A. Integrate Student Participation
B. Mobile-Capable Web Application
Open source web application
Bot-based web application
Branding for Queen’s University hackathon