Hacks with Friends 2015 provided a showcase for IT talent and innovation across the University. This two-day, grassroots event was a "hackathon," where participants from campus IT organizations pitched ideas, formed teams, and built a project (or "hack") from scratch to prototype. Hacks with Friends took place March 5-6, and was supported and organized by staff from MSIS, MCIT, ITS, and the School of Dentistry.
Over 100 participants across these IT organizations brought their talents and creative energies to build "MVPs" (minimum viable products) for 20 projects in support of improved health care education, services delivery, and research. Many teams recruited members from multiple organizations and brought together skill sets from across the entire IT career spectrum, including developers, web designers, data analysts, user experience experts, and business analysts. The Hack Day projects addressed the themes of gamification, collaboration, or play.
The projects were presented for final judging by three CIOs: Medical School CIO Ted Hanss, Hospitals and Health Centers CIO Sue Schade, and U-M CIO and Associate Vice President Laura Patterson. The winning project was "Magic Mirror," which takes photos from the MCard database and imports them into the Canvas learning management system, allowing student pictures to be displayed and browsed inside of Canvas. According to Ryan Henyard, project lead, "Our hope was that by having user picture and info displayed inside of Canvas, this would inspire collaboration among med students, as well as between students and faculty. It could also be used for staff who want to find each other and collaborate."
Even projects that didn't place in the top five garnered attention. For example, MCIT's Activity in Motion proposed a multi-platform application to capture and centralize major IT incident activity in real-time. According to Sue Schade, "The team's presentation helped me realize the current state of managing major incidents and how a simple app like this could improve the process. I asked the team to present to my leadership group and then come back in a month with recommendations on how to fit this solution into our current major incident process. It's a great example of how a hackathon opened one leader's eyes to a problem that needed to be solved."
Ted Hanss concluded, "This was the third hackathon for MSIS, but the first that included our colleagues from other U-M IT organizations. It was exciting to see the level of collaboration across teams and all the creativity and energy that went into the projects. There's no doubt that many of these projects and concepts have legs beyond the hackathon. Most important, though, was the learning that took place and the personal connections established across IT units."