Article

Hackathon 2020 – Everything we do tomorrow starts with an idea today

30 Nov 2020

As a company built on technology and innovation, we’ve been hosting hackathons since 2012. The idea is simple; everyone is invited to leave their day-to-day work behind and flex their creative muscles on projects they’re passionate about, and which could move our products, processes, and business forward.

Of course, remote working made Hackathon 2020 a little different than normal, but our tech teams in Portland and Gothenburg were joined by colleagues from across the business who got involved and shared ideas.

The event was coordinated by Bjorn Davis and Keith Lafortune – Software Engineering Managers in our Portland office – together with their counterparts in Gothenburg. Bjorn explained the popularity of the annual Hackathon, “It’s probably most employees’ favourite event of the year. They can pick a project, pitch their ideas and at the end of the week everyone shares what they’ve been working on. It’s also great to see how people work in different offices.”

Everything we do tomorrow starts with an idea today

As well as being a lot of fun, the event has a real purpose. There are already plenty of projects from previous hackathons that have being developed and implemented. “For example, in Schedaero and Trip Manager there’s the ability to customize the quote template. That’s a really popular feature and it came from an idea at one of the events,” explained Keith. 

He continued, “The functionality that lets users view upcoming scheduled trips on a map, so they can see which airports they’re going to, is also the result of a project from Hackathon 2019. But sadly, the original working title of Dude Where’s my Aircraft? didn’t make it”.

2020 saw a focus on working smarter

Amongst the 27 projects developed at Hackathon 2020, there was a lot of exciting technical ideas, specifically around improving productivity and speeding up the time it takes to compile and release code – ideas that could deliver huge time and cost savings to the business. 

Other projects looked at new developments of the Schedaero app for iPhone users, Google performance measurement tools, and even a couple of games – including one Atari-style idea which let users go back in time to different points in Avinode Group’s history and explore the company.

Some ideas are gone…. but never forgotten

At a Hackathon event, no idea is too crazy to explore. But of those projects that didn’t quite make it over the years, one in particular stands out. Keith explained, “There was a bizarre and wonderful project from Hackathon 2019. One of our engineers wanted to know what it would sound like if a Schedaero trip created music. He assigned a musical note to the time zone of every airport visited. Each aircraft in the company’s fleet was then assigned an instrument, and you could play an operator’s trips. It was very punk rock”.

We’ll never lose our spirit of curiosity

There’s no doubt that making the time to celebrate innovation and collaboration benefits everyone involved. “Hackathon 2020 was a chance to refresh and recharge for the tech team, which is really important. We’re such a flat organisation that everyone in the team feels like they have input into what we’re producing for our clients, but this was a rare chance for us to be completely in charge. Every business needs that upside down time every now and again,” said Keith.

And in terms of how Hackathon 2020 perfectly embodied the culture of Avinode Group, Bjorn summed the event up perfectly, “One of our key values is ‘Curiosity is our constant’ and this event is one of the ways we hold ourselves to our values and exercise that by letting our employees be curious”.

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