Hackathons are fun and our university, KU ACM chapter specifically hosts an MLH hackathon every year - HackKU (archive of 2022). I was always in a seat of a semi-organizer, so I could never participate. The last time I did when I was a freshman, I had to forfeit and leave the competition because the mother of all colds decided to strike me down at the end of the first day of the hackathon.
This year was different. Ethan, Aubree, Jame, and I entered the competition as The Quintessential Quartet. There were two main tracks, of which you could only pursue one. One of the tracks was “teaching” and the other one was basically anything. About seven more tracks are sponsored by MLH. We decided that we will pursue and win all of them, which were:
Hacker’s Choice Award
Best Domain Name from Domain.com
Best Use of Google Cloud
Most Creative Use of Twilio
Best Use of DeSo
Most Creative Use of GitHub
Each win in a category guaranteed some prizes. Shall we get started?
How it began
Brainstorming took a bit of a second to come up with anything, especially with me dipping the event for the first few hours to host a workshop and other things. Closer to the next morning, we had it.
Use DeSo blockchain to create a social network platform for tutors to get directly paid, while hosting the web interface on a Kubernetes cluster in a GCP VM instance, use Twilio for registration, and GitHub later for pages hosting and more. I have to preface all of this that none of us are remotely into crypto.
We thought, how far can we go into the competition with tools we've never worked with before and basing our tech on ideals and philosophy, which we do not share? Please welcome Nakano. Empower your peers. We shall embrace the crypto bro mindset, we must become crypto bros to pull this off.
Let’s use every buzzword we can think of to make our elevator pitch, create socials for our project, a very shiny Web 3.0 looking website with BIG bold lettering, and neo-minimalist design. All while we have been working on actually deploying a DeSo node, but that proved to take more time and resources than we could allocate (you need to copy 400GB+ of blockchain data to start a node).
I am especially proud of our devpost readme that goes on about the tech and the vision in the most buzzword play we could think of at the moment. Looks like we are trying to sell you something
Overall, we had a strong marketing focus on our project, while the node and backend did work, it wasn’t as stable as we would like it to have been. The judging time is coming. We have to sell this strong
Listen, let’s be real here, school is hard. especially if you have no one to help you through it. Tutors are an essential, even a critical part of one’s success.
Research shows (we actually did it) that students that are being tutored get a grade-point average of a whole letter grade higher than the ones who don’t have a tutor.
Tutors are amazing! But there is a problem. Tutors and teachers now are criminally underpaid, under-engaged, and under-valued thanks to an outdated institutional model.
We believe all of these problems can be solved by decentralizing teaching content in the same way Bitcoin and Ethereum are decentralizing the financial system.
We had strong teams this year and deserving winners announced during the closing ceremony. Interestingly enough, we won the DeSo award (no one else was crazy enough to go for it) and the Hacker’s Choice Award (we had the most liked presentation/demo). Overall, amazing time!
Thank you, HackKU team for organizing such an event and allowing us to run fun projects!