University Hack Days in the UK – with a difference


Following the great success from last year's first European University Hack Program in Dundee/Scotland, Yahoo! Europe started working with the University of East London.

The structure of university hack programs in Europe is different from Open Hack Days and the US University Hack Days. The main difference is that it is not a 24 hour hacking frenzy - instead the program runs alongside the studies and in some cases is part of the course.

This approach was engineered in conjunction with universities and successfully executed in Dundee last year. The main idea is to bring the "ethical hack" mentality to universities and give students some insight into how companies like Yahoo! work and what mind-set fuels their innovation. The other idea is that instead of a one day Hackfest we allow students more time to get to know our APIs and other goodies we offer on the Yahoo Developer Network.

The difference is reflected in the structure of the program:

  • We go to Universities, explain the program, show examples of nice hacks and share success stories.
  • We give some technical presentations explaining the technologies we use, where to find our APIs and how to use them.
  • Students then get a week time to make up their mind if they want to have a go at a hack.
  • If wanted, students can send their hack ideas in and get feedback.
  • The students then get a certain period of time (defined by the university) to create their hack.
  • After that we go back to the university, check out the different hacks, crown the winners and typically end up in the student union celebrating with all involved.

That is the plan, which is flexible and can be altered on a case-by-case basis depending on what kind of University and course we partner with.

Yesterday the Uni Hack Team went to the University of East London to give talks about technologies to build web interfaces, the Symfony PHP Framework and practices how to ensure the scalability of your web applications. On the first of November we'll go up to Scotland to initiate the sequel to last year's hack program at Dundee University.

We'll keep you informed about the happenings and progress and are very happy to get this opportunity to give future hackers a glimpse of what companies like Yahoo! do.

Chris Heilmann