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:

  • Register for Hack for Western Mass to let us know you’re coming.  We want to make sure to have enough good food for you while you work!
  • Check out the schedule to get a sense of the plans for the weekend.
  • Never been to a Hackathon before? Our resources can help give you tools.
  • Read about the challenges. Here are the new challenges. If you know of a non-profit organization that could use some help, please let us know!
  • Come to the Friday gathering. 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 jump started and ready to go when hacking officially starts on Saturday morning.

Get ready:

  • Pack your laptop and charger. Wifi will be available.
  • 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’re 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 welcome from Mayor Alex Morse, we’ll give an overview of the Hack for Western Mass community and what to expect throughout the weekend. Then presentations from our partner organizations will begin. You’ll hear 2-3 minute presentations about each challenge and have a chance to ask questions. Team formation: After the presentations, people can walk around, ask questions, and decide what challenge they want to work on. Then we’ll break out into small teams and start hacking on the projects. Food: 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 for the day 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.
  • Focus! Once you’ve defined the problem you’re addressing very narrowly, then you’ll be able to create simple solution for that single purpose.
  • 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!