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Below is an article originally written by PowerToFly Partner 33Across, and published on January 18, 2019. Go to 33Across' page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
2019 33Across Hackathon
Feelings of pride, triumph, excitement, awe, and maybe a touch of disappointment are running through the 33Across offices as our 6th hackathon just wrapped. In just 24 hours, 10 teams across the US and India worked together to create hacks based on 3 different themes: Attention Platform, Technology & Innovation, and Process & Efficiency.
Unlike more traditional hackathons, our hacks have cross-departmental participation with team members spanning from operations, sales, product, and engineering. Typically, this inclusiveness gives the hacks a better chance for becoming viable products and solutions.
And the actual hacks? The amount of enthusiasm to lead our business forward became clear through not just the technical ingenuity but how every team's presentation tied back to business outcomes specific to 33Across. Our judges certainly did not have an easy job deciding who the winners were in each category.
The winners are:
Voltron (Alex M, Drew, Lifei, Gil, Ujwal): Ad Quality Image Classifier
Coconut Tart (Ashley, Blair, Derek, Maayan, Mike, Pallavi): Privacy Compliance Automation
Alama (Alex R, Aparna, Arthur, Lauren D, Mark): Partner Integration Metrics Querying & Alerting
Popular Choice Award
1337h4x0r5 (Adam, Kush, Patrick, Saajan, Sasha): Dynamic and Configurable Alerting System
Hackathon teams present to the entire company
While the US teams were sleeping, the teams in India were in full swing of the 33Across Hackathon
On the other side of the World, our India participants had to record their presentations in advance.
Even our remote colleagues felt the Hackathon vibe
Teams composed of members from our Sunnyvale and NYC offices managed the time difference to brainstorm ideas
Team 1337h4x0r5 in mid-hack
Below is an article originally written by Alex Siegman, AI Technical Program Manager at PowerToFly Partner Dow Jones, and published on April 6, 2018. Go to Dow Jones' page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
Last week Dow Jones hosted an internal, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) Hackathon.
110 employees, representing more than fifty unique departments, gathered in New York City to address how we might leverage A.I. to augment our products and services.
And while the hackathon itself is certainly worthy of reflection, I prefer to resound my experience as a member of the hackathon planning committee in this inaugural Dow Jones blog post.
Now, odds are you're interested in one of two things: The literal process of planning a hackathon or the more vague process of implementing A.I. at scale in a corporate setting.
Lucky for you, many of the insights gleaned during the actual hackathon organization process echo a host of universal truths about implementing A.I. at a company as expansive as Dow Jones, and I'm honored to share those insights and truths with you now.
Alas, let us begin!
Dow Jones is comprised of more than 6,000 employees in more than 40 locations across six continents, so the first challenge we faced was a divergent knowledge base regarding all things A.I.
For instance, some employees had already designed propensity models to inform the Wall Street Journal's dynamic paywall, while others had only noted the term 'A.I.' in the context of the film Blade Runner.
To help educate employees, we partnered with multiple leading A.I. companies to host a series of lectures and workshops that addressed everything from the overarching business applications of A.I., to the technical details of designing an actual neural network.
In conjunction with our lectures and workshops, we created a designated A.I. Slack channel as well as a weekly internal newsletter about all things A.I., which allowed for company-wide sharing of resources and information.
Unfortunately, parallel to the aforementioned divergence in understanding, there emerged a general weariness on the part of those less familiar with A.I. to participate in the hackathon, born of a misunderstanding that A.I. is best left in the hands of those with development experience.
Dow Jones employees hard at work during last week's A.I./ML hackathon.
To dispel the myth that A.I. is uniquely an engineering endeavor, it was important to communicate to employees that no A.I. evolves in a vacuum. Engineers must work alongside customer support, project management, the newsroom and even standards and legal, to implement any A.I. project.
In other words, no one area of expertise is more valuable than another when it comes to implementing A.I. at scale.
This realization that A.I. is an all-hands-on-deck undertaking exposed a second challenge, namely that A.I. is so nascent and broad a field it is often difficult to know where to begin.
Some projects may require image recognition, others natural language processing. Some may require convolutional neural networks, others simple logistic regression. Et. cetera., et. cetera.
To address this deluge of potential launch points, we decided to simply let employees pursue their personal interests. To reiterate, no area of expertise is more valuable than another when implementing A.I. at scale, so why limit employees to a particular field of A.I.? (Not to mention, hackathons are meant to promote creativity and collaboration, and we didn't want to limit any team's potential).
Finally, and mirroring the above challenges stemming from a plethora A.I. subfields, was our third and perhaps greatest challenge: Which hackathon projects do we pursue further?
This particular challenge is, of course, still ongoing, and will be for some time. At a company as large and diverse as Dow Jones, it is easy to fall victim to a fear of the unfamiliar and to become overwhelmed amidst a plethora of potential projects and programs. So how are we meant to decide what direction to travel as we begin in earnest our A.I. journey?
(4/5ths of) our judges and (5/6ths of) our winning team! Pictured from L to R: Karen Pensiero, Paul Kaiser, Michael Doss, Pritish Mehra, Mark Riley, Dhinesh Dhanapal, Luke Sawatsky, Bharath Malapati, Glenn Hall.
The answer to this final challenge, I believe, is simple.
Embrace the unknown with curiosity and healthy skepticism. Acknowledge both the strength and the danger inherent in A.I. and work to augment your business when appropriate while learning to say 'no' when it is not. Experiment within reason, and, above all else, be sure to leverage each and every one of your employees.
And what better way to embrace, acknowledge and experiment than a hackathon!
Below is an article originally written by Alexandra Phillips, an Engineering Manager at PowerToFly Partner Yelp, and published on November 7, 2018. Go to Yelp's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
It's time for our fall Hackathon! At Yelp, Hackathons are two-day events that provide unstructured time for our engineering and product teams to work on whatever may scratch their creative itch! Hackathon truly embodies our company values of "Playing Well with Others" and "Being Unboring," as it invites us to participate in so many different ways.
Engineers have the liberty to work on projects related to or completely outside the box of the Yelp product. We've seen many types of projects over the years from music videos and new photo classification algorithms to baking workshops, custom video games, and so much more! It's a great outlet for collaboration and innovation that really helps foster teamwork and creativity.
Ready, set, hack!
For the past several weeks, we've been hard at work preparing for the final Hackathon of the year: number 27! This year will be our ninth year running, with each year traditionally hosting three hackathons. This pace enables the engineering team to have reliable and regular outlets for their creativity and to take advantage of several opportunities throughout their career to work on a variety of different project types.
We're particularly focused on the celebration of building something together, and in an effort to recognize that, have come up with six different awards: Useful, Funny, Cool, Hardcore, Unhack, and Spotlight. The Spotlight award in particular rotates its theme every Hackathon; Hackathon 27 we'll be spotlighting "Inclusion" which is an important facet of Yelp culture. We're hoping to this inspires a broad range of projects and activities bringing awareness to how important inclusion is in workplace culture.
Hackathon planning is a collaboration between our awesome Engineering, Engineering Event Planning, and Engineering Recruiting teams. There's a lot of orchestration involved in selecting the theme, arranging the catering, helping engineers find or evangelize their ideal projects, designing the swag, and of course, planning the Ridiculousness!
Plenty of hacking fuel!
In the true spirit of being unboring, Ridiculousness is the center of fun and games during Hackathon. Need a break from hacking? Come on by to paint, build, draw, or play interactive games with your fellow engineers! Team connectedness is something that transcends both our SF and Hamburg Engineering teams and is celebrated by sharing a Hackathon kickoff toast and awards ceremony.
I've had the amazing opportunity of seeing so many unique, creative projects that have been the product of hard work and collaboration of our engineering and product teams. I'd like to share just a few with you!
One of my favorite projects coming out of Hackathon is "AWE the Book." AWE is our Awesome Women in Engineering employee group at Yelp, who champions and facilitates initiatives to improve inclusion and diversity within Yelp Engineering. "AWE the Book" is a collection of interviews from over 60 women in Engineering and Product, with each page speaking to their childhood aspirations, what they love about Yelp, and their pathway into the tech industry. It was an amazing demonstration of people coming together to work on a project they're passionate about. Read more about it in this blog post!
One useful Hackathon project that's now embedded into Yelp culture is Yelp Love, an app that allows any employee to send kudos to one or several colleagues at a time. Yelp Love has become the defacto way to say "thank you" to a coworker that really went above and beyond, and it helps us all live by our "play well with others" value.
Hackathon Science Fair - Winner of the Hardcore award, Neon Incident Pager
One of the most hardcore projects was the "Neon Incident Pager project." This was a physical neon light and LED display that integrated with our incident paging system to create a bright and eye-catching display when an incident is triggered! This project took on a creative, fun, and yet hardcore challenge to produce something really remarkable!
Hackathon Science Fair
I grow more and more excited as we head into Hackathon 27 as I'm reminded of some of my favorite aspects of Hackathon at Yelp: meeting new people, learning new things, and building! Hack on!