Hack the Happiness Hackathon took place at the VME, Technobothnia on Thursday 7 and Friday 8 April 2022.
When planning the hackathon, we (the VME Crew) felt it was really important to create an inclusive event where everyone could join us. The hackathon was free and open to all students, regardless of their major.
We also wanted to make sure the theme of the hackathon was one everyone could relate to and get on board with. We thought a lot about what that theme should be; mental health, fitness, entertainment. But then, inspiration struck: Why not make a hackathon all about happiness? Who wouldn’t want to try and find the key to happiness?
First Date Nerves
On Day One of the hackathon, over 25 students from the University of Vaasa, VAMK and NOVIA joined us. The atmosphere was just like that of a first date: excitement, fear, panic, hope. Everyone was there hoping to find ‘the One’ – the one solution that would win over our panel of experienced judges;
I’ve never seen anyone try to hack happiness!
(Pekka Abrahamsson, Hack the Happiness Judge)
A number of helpful experts agreed to be mentors to our hackathon participants and guide them through the Hack the Happiness journey.
Freely offering their skills and experience to our hackers were: DONE robotics Founder Thomas, Novia researcher Dennis, MUOVA Incubator Manager Jari, Mondragon University lecturer Oskar and student Martin, University of Vaasa teachers Laura and Sebastian and University of Vaasa researchers Miguel and Suleymon.
Our keen students quickly formed teams and began the process of picking a sub-theme. We felt it was possibly a little too challenging to ask our hackers to hack happiness in its entirety, so we offered a few relevant sub-themes to help them out. Our sub-themes were:
Release the Kraken! Or, in this case, your creativity. Online learning has become a normal part of student life. Using easily-available tech and software, online learning can be so much more than a copy-paste of a traditional classroom setup. Using your combined brains – the ‘Hub Mind’, if you will – come up with a solution to elevate student learning. How can you maximise the fun and learning students experience in online classes?
Socializing – Elevated
Forget FaceTime and Whatsapp. We want you to really stretch the ‘Hub Mind’ (the collection of your team’s brains) and think how you can make student life that little bit shinier. What can you do to improve your social life? How can you use technology in a different way to improve your relationships with others as well as make new friends?
Find Your Joy
We’ve all been there. Stressed, anxious, not sure what to do next. Using your Hub’s experience (that means your team) and innovation, come up with a superb stress- and anxiety-busting solution that’ll knock our judges’ socks off (not literally, obvs).
Flex the design muscles of your ‘Hub Mind’ in the ultimate challenge – creating an escape room. Work together to design the puzzles, challenges and brain-teasers needed for the finest of all escape rooms. Your escape room should be one where students can escape the stresses of daily life, socialise and together have fun working out how to get to the exit.
Body = Temple
Balancing physical and mental health can be a struggle. Using the power of your ‘Hub Mind’, come up with a creative solution to help students care for both their bodies and minds. How can technology help students eat healthily and do enough sport whilst also getting enough sleep and recovery time? It’s up to you to find out.
Let the Hacking Begin
Mentors met, teams formed and subthemes chosen the only thing left to do was to get hacking! Teams relocated into various rooms around Technobothnia to ensure the top-secrecy of their Hack the Happiness solutions. The VME Crew made sure everyone’s minds and stomachs were well-fuelled with good food and snacks and regular check-ins with mentors.
By Day Two, those First Date Nerves™ seemed to have deepened, and our hackers were starting to feel the pressure. Conversations were more hushed, attention even more focused. Final presentations were looming – which team would earn First Prize for Hacking the Happiness?
Pitches honed, judges assembled, it was time for our brave hackers to pitch their ideas to the audience. Not a hair out of place, every team delivered a stellar presentation of their innovative solutions; we were awed by wellbeing apps, escape room adventures and more.
They didn’t get off easily, though. Our keen judges asked all the best questions to ensure our teams had really considered every aspect of their solution – who would be their first paying customer? How would they develop their solution in the future? How will they best the competition?
The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For
Our judges had a very hard time deciding on which team would be the winning team. A VERY hard time. Whilst only one team would be the winning team, all teams were encouraged to reach out and connect with the judges and mentors and continue to develop their ideas.
In the end, it was Team MIHUQ won first prize for their platform combining teaching and learning tools. They won a variety of great prizes but the most important prize won by all was, we believe, the Hack the Happiness experience.
The VME Crew would like to thank everyone who took part in Hack the Happiness, our judges, mentors and sponsors. Thank you for supporting this event and we hope you’ll come back soon to experience all the VME has to offer.