WSU CrimsonCode 2018 Hackathon Recap

Seven DocuSign engineers- Stephen Parish, David Miller, Brice Lwo, Mark Ramasco, Kiah Jones, Alyssa Pavao and myself- all from the Seattle office, headed out to Washington State University’s (WSU) Crimson Code Hackathon to participate as day-of mentors and to represent DocuSign as a sponsor of the event. The group drove the 285 miles to Pullman, WA, where the University is situated, with DocuSign SWAG, gear, and excitement for the following day's hackathon.

Saturday March 3rd, 2018

The temperature outside at WSU was a chilly 29 degrees and snow had fallen the night before, but the excitement and growing number of participants arriving to get checked in added to a warm atmosphere inside the newly built Sparks Building centered in the middle of campus.

The DocuSign team gathered, set up the table and SWAG and prepared for opening speeches and the start of the day. As with college students and free items, the items we brought were quickly diminished as the students started to file in.

The Crimson Code Hackathon, which normally hosts around 200-300 students, had its highest participation level ever with over 370 students registered for the event.

I opened for DocuSign announcing the DocuSign Individual Prize Category and where to find the team of DocuSign day-off mentors.

As one looked around the room, you could tell the students were eager to get started on their projects and get to hacking.

The team met with several students throughout the day answering questions, providing guidance, and handing out DocuSign SWAG.

At 12:30 students gathered to hear myself, Kiah Jones, a Microsoft Integrations Team Developer, and Alyssa Pavao, an API Team Developer, lead a panel on Women in Tech and shared their experiences and advice for women in engineering.

It was an informal talk that focused on answering specific questions students in the audience had about being a woman in the field. Afterwards, many students came up to us to ask more questions and get additional advice. All in all, it was a great talk.

After lunch, the Slack channels and students started gearing up for their projects and asking for mentors by name for help and assistance.

At 3pm students gathered to hear Stephen Parish and David Miller lead a lightening talk focusing on system architecture and design in the Software industry.

This talk focused on various metrics, evaluating design decisions and engineering in a large organization. They also show cased a project worked on during our own Hackathon the last month.

As the day carried on, the students went through lulls of having no questions and then suddenly having dozens. The mentors became familiar with several student’s groups projects and would be gone in bursts of 30 minutes or more.

The range of student’s technical abilities ranged from High School students with beginning programming classes all the way to graduate students.

Sunday March 4th, 2018

Sunday morning, the temperature in the cool 20s F, the team met up in the mentor’s lounge to sync up for the day and help the last of the students who were rapping up their projects.

Out of the 370 students, and the 80 something projects- only 50 survived through the morning. We had four teams that finished to completion with DocuSign APIs.

At 11am, the mentor team, made up of SEL, Microsoft and DocuSign employees, geared up to be judges in either Tier 1-comprising of high school students, Freshman and sophomores or Tier 2- comprising of more technically advanced juniors, seniors and grad students.

After nearly two hours of judging the team regrouped and reviewed the student’s projects including categories of uniqueness, technical complexity and usefulness- and determined the winners. For the DocuSign prizes we chose two students in Tier 2.

After judging, some of the mentor’s started heading home to make the long 5-hour drive back home to the Seattle area.

I presented the awards for DocuSign and stayed to see winners from the overall hackathon.

Nick Anderssohn, a senior at WSU (pictured left), won 1st place for the DocuSign Individual Prize Category. His project was synchronously Signing remote envelopes on a hand held/mobile device with DocuSign.

Burrito Squad- Sam Mahan, Michael Vincent, Kathy Freund, and Spark the cat! (pictured right) Won 2nd place with their project: Scam detection via email to see if an was a legit envelope was coming from DocuSign or not.

All the teams worked hard through the night to complete and learned a lot along the way.

All-in-all, the weekend was fun and all the mentors enjoyed meeting and helping the students. Thank you to the mentors who helped and dedicated their weekend to representing DocuSign.