Cohort 38 Graduates Finish Strong At The Knoxville City Hackathon

Aug 6, 2020
Mandy Arola

Being remote has its challenges, but it also opens new opportunities. Just a few weeks after graduating, four members of Web Development Cohort 38 took advantage of being remote to participate in the Knoxville City Hackathon. Matthew Kroeger, Cooper Nichols, Alyssa Nycum, and Katie Wohl spent the weekend of July 17-18 pulling an all-nighter to build their full stack Django app.

The City Data Challenge

In just its second year, the organizers of the Knoxville City Hackathon decided to take it virtual! Teams with up to four members were given several data sets to use in their projects and were able to use that data to build whatever they could imagine. Alyssa, Cooper, Katie, and Matthew chose to tackle the City Data Challenge. Deciding what data set to use was the easy part. Deciding what to build was not so easy. “It was exciting that it was so open. We’re used to so much structure that it was our biggest challenge. It was freeing, but also a little stressful for us,” shared Alyssa. Matthew added, “We were almost paralyzed by it being open-ended.” But then they fell back on their capstone experience where they had a lot of freedom to come up with an idea for an application and then build it. Cooper clarified that instead of 2 weeks to build a full stack application like their capstone, they had less than 28 hours to plan and build one.

The City Data Challenge asked for teams to create a database for a neighborhood directory and show it on a public-facing website. The Knoxville Office of Neighborhoods shared their current directory, a list of all the fields they needed in the directory, and the sorting functionality they needed.

Screenshot of C38 Alum's Full stack Django App built for the Knoxville City Hackathon

The Final Results

The full stack Django application they built included a public-facing page where people can find neighborhood organizations and an administrator page for maintenance and adding organizations to the database. In addition to Python/Django, the team used TablePlus for SQLite and the Django ORM. They initially used CSS for styling, but Katie has since cleaned it up with Materialize.

After working through the night, it was time for the judging. The top 7 teams (out of 16 who submitted their work) would make it to the final round of judging and present their applications. They were surprised to learn that they, a team of four junior devs, made the top 7!

You can check out the code to their application here.

Screenshot of C38 Alum's Full stack Django App built for the Knoxville City Hackathon

What did they learn?

Cooper, Katie, Matt, and Alyssa, were excited over the confidence they gained by participating in the Hackathon. At the beginning of the event they had their doubts about what they would be able to accomplish, but once they had their direction, the processes and skills they learned at NSS kicked in. “I learned that NSS did prepare me,” Alyssa shared. “We knew how to do this. It was just a shorter time frame.”

“I didn’t know we could make a back-end capstone in under 24 hours and make something top 7 worthy! It was the coolest thing,” exclaimed Matt.

Life after graduating NSS can feel a little surreal. After spending six months in an intense web development bootcamp, you find you miss the structure that kept you motivated and learning. For these Cohort 38 alums, participating in the online hackathon  was just the motivation they needed. “It was really awesome and inspired me to keep the focus going post graduation. I found it really motivating,” shared Katie.

All four of these recent graduates are on the job hunt. You can get to know more about them on their podcasts and personal websites.

Matthew Kroeger: Podcast | Website

Cooper Nichols: Podcast | LinkedIn

Alyssa Nycum: Podcast | Website | Graduate Spotlight

Katie Wohl: Podcast | Website


Interested in participating in a hackathon?

Keep an eye out for how you can participate in the virtual Hack For The Community in late October and the NSS alumni/student hackathon in Jan/Feb 2021!

Topics: Alumni, Hiring?, Community, Web Development