Engineering Innovation via Collaboration: Science Hack Day 2012

While recent research suggests collaboration isn’t ideal for creativity, there is no denying that multiple minds, attacking a problem from different angles, can come up with solutions that would not have been realized in solitude. Bringing smart people from different backgrounds together is the point of  Science Hack Day and similar events that share the same format.

Beginning as a Yahoo event in 2005, Science Hack Days have been held all over the world and bring engineers, programmers and science enthusiasts of all sorts together to brainstorm new ideas. A Hack Day is usually a two-day event. The first day is spent gathering ideas and information, the second on making those ideas into a reality. At the end of the second day, judges choose the best ideas from the bunch and award prizes to the winners.

Science Hack Day San Francisco

Science Hack Day San Francisco. Courtesy of Matt Biddulph.

Hack Day attendees use open data sources provided by scientific research and, increasingly, city councils, to fuel their ideas. Big business has taken notice of the gatherings and companies like Google, Yahoo, NASA and even Lego have sent observers, offered sponsorships and provided materials for the events.

API and datasets available for this year’s Hack Days have been provided by Google, Flickr, NASA among others, including a broad array of scientific journals. Areas covered include global biodiversity, astronomy, molecular biology, computer science and more.

The events aren’t just hot air, either. In 2011, the Over the Air Hack Day-like event held in Bletchley Park, assisted Telefonica in creating BlueVia, the company’s set of development tools. In 2006, a Hack U attendee created the first slide rule widget. Hack Day San Francisco 2010 helped produce the OpenPCR biotechnology machine.

Events planned so far this year can be found in Chicago, Nairobi, Dublin, Cape Town, San Francisco, Mexico City, Cincinnati and London. For more information, check out the Science Hack Day website.

Below you’ll find a video that shows what to expect at a Hack Day.

Sources: Science Hack Day, Huffington Post

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One Response to Engineering Innovation via Collaboration: Science Hack Day 2012

  • Just wanted to add a couple of corrections: Science Hack Days started in 2010 – it was Yahoo! Hack Days that started in 2005. OpenPCR was already invented before Science Hack Day San Francisco 2010 – but they brought it to the event to explore more projects with it.


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