Canada’s brilliant tech talent spans young innovators and aspiring students that are working far and hard to become promising industry leaders of tomorrow. We speak to Lokhin Wu, co-founder,Toronto Youth Network, one of the largest student-led hackathons in the Greater Toronto Area, on howInspireHacks is inspiring students across Canada to pursue their passion in coding, designing and hackingto achieve excellence in technology design.
Tell us about InspireHacks. What inspired you to launch it and why did you choose the name ‘InspireHacks’?
All our co-founders share a common passion for designing and coding. So, we all agreed to kick off Toronto Youth Network’s event schedule with something that we all enjoyed. Conducting a hackathon was an idea that resonated with our exec team, who are also enthusiastic about coding and design. We tweaked the idea to make the event more design-oriented and student-friendly instead of strictly focusing on intense coding.
For this initiative, we wanted a name that was synonymous with creativity, design, and passion, but also one that would seamlessly link the event with the hackathon scene. We strongly felt that we were working towards inspiring students to design meaningful apps whilst hacking; so, we chose InspireHacks as our name.
Tell us about some of the interesting projects that have been crafted at InspireHacks.
InspireHacks has witnessed some truly groundbreaking projects. One such interesting project included an app that was designed to simplify group outings. Group members could search for new and exciting restaurants while simultaneously fulfilling everybody’s dietary restrictions. It allowed users to filter options, such as vegetarian, no pork, vegan, and so on. It also recommended new restaurants to users based on their pre-fed information. Another very interesting project was a health app, that enabled users to track their calorie intake and exercise using speech-to-text and natural language processing features.
What are some of the insights you have gained through InspireHacks?
Through this hackathon, we’ve realized that today’s youth are moving in a direction to make a change in society and are motivated to discover and hone their talents. The ideas that came up at the hackathon showed a huge variety of designs, but they ultimately shared one purpose; to make the world a better place. As naïve as that may seem, the young talent that attended InspireHacks this year have all had a passion to solve everyday problems, and they incorporated this into their designs.
For example, one of the apps that garnered tremendous applause was designed to help people in need of medical assistance. The app would send out drones to the medical emergency site and deliver first-aid resources until paramedics can arrive. This was proof to us that young innovators perceive modern technologies from a different stand-point and are successful at implementing these pathbreaking innovations.
What inspired you to choose .TECH for inspirehacks.tech?
We chose a .TECH domain to effectively communicate what InspireHacks was about when we were promoting the event website online. At the time, we thought if one isn’t familiar with what ‘hack’ means in the context of a hackathon, it could be confusing to comprehend what kind of event we are inviting people to. So, using .TECH enabled people to realize that InspireHacks had a strong technology element about it before they opened the website.
What is your advice to students who wish to pursue a career in design?
To students who wish to pursue design and coding, we definitely recommend participating in student hackathons. Not only is the experience invaluable, but also the events allow you to network with some of the brightest minds in the industry. During our event, many young innovators got to speak with our judges, who were already well-known founders of design-oriented startups. Students at InspireHacks asked for advice, as well as other questions about the judge’s experiences in these fields. Joining clubs and attending events like InspireHacks is the best way to get ahead in industries such as tech design, and get a feel for what they are like. We believe that with enough hard work and passion, anyone can excel in this competitive world. That is why Toronto Youth Networks is dedicated to helping aspiring students find what their passion is.
What are your future plans for InspireHacks?
We hope that InspireHacks will come back in 2018 as most of our execs have already started ironing some notes from our experience of planning this year’s event. We’ve received great feedback from the participants and have already received a promising interest for the next InspireHacks. We also hope that InspireHacks will grow to become a bigger initiative for students across Canada! For the bigger picture, we are working towards making InspireHacks an annual event.
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