Three questions about DIALOG’s Hackathon

Three questions about DIALOG’s Hackathon

We sat down with Mark Cichy, DIALOG’s Director of Computational Design, to discuss DIALOG’s second annual Hackathon.

So, tell us. What is Hackathon all about?

Hackathon is a two day event that takes place at each of our studios. In small teams, participants have 48 hours to tackle a coding challenge affecting their project work. It’s a great opportunity to explore new ideas and build apps that we might not get a chance to in our day-to-day work. Hackathons tend to focus on more pragmatic coding solutions that address active processes. However, this year some of the pragmatic projects led to investigations of applied Artificial Intelligence – this is typically beyond the scope of conventional projects.

As an example, in Toronto, we had a group of three DIALOGers working on concept about universal washrooms. Using a database of configurations, they developed an app that allows our

designers to choose the correct bathroom configuration based on the most appropriate application. It sounds like a no brainer, previously we did not have an internal standard, now we can add configurations with super high levels of consistency and measure their compliance against local or national building codes!

What happens at the end of the 48 hours? 

The goal at the end of the 48 hours is to have a minimum viable product, or functional solution that we can apply to projects going forward. The good news is we haven’t had a catastrophic failure – although some reach higher levels of resolution than others. It’s important to note that success doesn’t have to always be a success. A lot can be learned from “failure,” this helps us refocus and/or determine that what we initially set out to do may actually be much more complex than we had originally thought; or maybe we should be pursuing a different strategy all together.

Overall, what does success look like for Hackathon?

The value of Hackathon is generating innovative ideas, converting ideas into actionable performance contributors, and working as a team to come to a conclusion. Super valuable! What’s next? Well, next year we’re looking at more cross-studio collaboration, one location, super concentrated talent, with the same high-quality outcomes.



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