Getting Ready!

Are you coming to Hack for Western Mass?

Here are a few things to help your prepare for this weekend.

Before the Event:

  • Check out the schedule to get a sense of the plans for the weekend.
  • Read about the challenges. The challenges have been posted on our website. Which ones are you excited about?
  • Participate in the discussion on Hackpad. Participate in the discussion or help get it started by adding your own thoughts about the projects. The hackpad is visible to attendees at events nationally as well.
  • Come to the Friday gathering at the High Horse in Amherst at 6pm. This is a chance for you to get to know some of the people who will be working on the projects over the weekend. Casual discussions about the challenges will get things lubricated and ready to go when hacking officially starts on Saturday morning.

Get ready:

  • Pack your laptop and charger. Wifi is available, but bring an ethernet cable if you might want access to the ultra-fast UMASS network. If you’re bringing an ethernet cable, double check your registration to make sure you gave us your MAC address. There are also plenty of machines available in the computer lab.
  • Read the code of conduct and remember to be considerate, welcoming, respectful, and collaborative, to consult others when you disagree, and to ask for help when you need it.
  • Make sure you have the tools you may want for the projects you’re interested in working on. Download, install, configure and be ready. Our resources page has some ideas of tools that may be useful.
  • Can you gather any data that might be needed beforehand?
  • We are using GitHub as the open source repository for the challenges. If you don’t already have one, create a free account and then submit a ticket to be added to the our github organization. Our resources page has some information about getting started with git.
  • Register for an account on this website. We encourage you to blog about your experiences at the hackathon.

What to expect at the Hackathon:

The challenge pitches:
After a brief welcome, we’ll put you through Hackathon Bootcamp. Then presentations will begin. You will hear 2-3 minute presentations about each challenge.

Team formation:
After the presentations, there will be a ten minute period where people can walk around, ask questions, and decide what challenge they want to work on. Then we’ll break out into small teams and move upstairs to start hacking on the projects.

There will be meals, snacks and coffee provided by our generous sponsors to fuel you while you’re working. The day will officially wind down after dinner on Saturday, but teams are free to keep working as needed. We’ll reconvene Sunday morning and get back to work!

Tips for hacking on your project:

  • Brainstorm, design, and then build. We’ll have some good tips for effectively working in teams at the Hackathon Bootcamp on Saturday morning.
  • Be open to seeing solutions that may seem crazy at first. One of the most valuable things about bringing together a diverse team like this is the potential for creative solutions and collaborations.
  • Don’t lose track of the overall vision. It’s important that the projects be developed in a way that fit the goals of the organization that will maintain the projects once the weekend is over.
  • Write about and document your process. Documentation for the challenges is as important as elegant code or beautiful design. The organizations and people who will maintain these projects need to know as much as possible about what you’ve created. Include documentation in your repository. Create an account and blog about the projects and your experience working as part of this community effort.

Wrapping Up

  • On Sunday afternoon, each team will give a short presentation of what they have worked on during the weekend. A short community feedback period will follow each presentation.
  • Results of the projects will be posted to an open source repository where ongoing community contributions can be maintained.
  • We plan to hold a follow up event in a month to present how the challenge projects have progressed since the event.


We appreciate your contributions to the community and look forward to working together to make Western Mass a better place. Thanks for everything you’re doing to prepare for the hackathon!

Please let us know if you have any questions!