Game of Code: Was “Game of Code” your first hackathon?
Bruno Wozniak: No, it was not my first attempt, I can’t claim to be a serial hackathoner just yet but a repeat offender, yes definitely – So, I got 2 prizes at #GameOfCode2018 (it must have been luck… oh, and 2 awesome team mates) and I participated to a couple of startup week-ends and startup hackathons, as a mentor, as a sponsor and as a participant (the latter was the best experience, by far, no doubt).
GoC: What did you like the most in this experience?
BW: It may sound a bit mundane, or trivial, but what I liked most was the laser focus on creating, and solving a problem, as opposed to, you know, the talking and “slide-showing” sometimes too predominant in the professional life. What I’m saying is that it is very gratifying to create something that works and that solves a real problem. I also very much liked the team aspect, you know, spending every single minute of your time with a couple of people, during 24 hours, that’s quite something!
And one last thing, I enjoyed the “friendly competition”, the fact that other teams were happy to share their experience and knowledge or conversely, to ask for a piece of advice or an opinion.
GoC: Which challenge did you choose?
BW: We picked the SES challenge and more particularly we worked on a solution to optimize the use of frequencies in satellite communication. The spectrum is a scarce and limited resource (hence our team name, “Don’t Mess With The Spectrum”) so, anything we can do to optimize its use is a positive outcome. To do so, we used a couple of advanced algorithms, including reinforcement learning and even a fair auction algorithm to monetize the freed-up frequencies. The best thing is that pre-hackathon I barely knew anything in that domain and as we moved on in the 24 hours of #GameOfCode, I learned, well, a thing or two…
GoC: What did you learn from the hackathon experience?
BW: I must confess I am a terrible coder, and incredibly slow as well, but I can’t help I love that stuff! And I learned that what I think of myself does not matter because the community will just accept me as I am – You know, there is this sort of collective growth, everyone sharing their best part and walking away with what they learned from others – That’s super powerful!
GoC: Would you participate again in Game of Code? Why?
BW: I would participate again, no doubt! First of all, because it is the perfect platform to go bold, it’s completely risk free, what can go wrong after all… And I would also team up with people I don’t know or I have never worked with before – Just for the sake of learning new ways of thinking, new ways of working and to also, possibly, share my tiny bit of experience and knowledge with others.
GoC: Why should developers participate in hackathons such as Game of Code?
BW: They should participate because of what I said above – But also, developers need to realize that their skills are gold… and if they engage with passion and they embrace a fat solid problem, they can move mountains! Sometimes, in the office, it is not easy to connect their work with the big idea, the big ambition, and find a profound purpose – Well here, they have a unique opportunity to create a direct connection between a problem they really care about and their ability to create – Again, it is super gratifying, a climax experience!