UBC Hacks & nwPlus
I organized three hackathons focussed on improving the diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility of the tech community.

Co-Founder @ UBC Hacks; Co-Director of LHD @ nwPlus

Early on in our university lives, Charmaine and I had the crazy idea of starting UBC Hacks at our school to share our love of hackathons and desire to increase the approachability of such events in the community.

On December 1st, 2018, we were excited to host our third annual UBC Local Hack Day, which became the largest LHD in North America!

Keep on reading to learn about my experience!

Local Hack Day 2016 & 2017

We saw the call for organizers on the Major League Hacking website around the middle of October 2016, giving us 1.5 months to put together our first event. As a two person team, organizing an event for the first time, it was a really stressful, but informative, experience.

I used my previous experience in designing graphics to quickly whip up some branding and marketing materials for the event, and these were implemented into our social media, print marketing, and website. We were also able to print my designs into custom stickers! This was a great learning experience for me to strengthen my design concepts (and I think I improved a lot from 2016 to 2017 😉).

UBC LHD16

Local Hack Day 2016 branding; designed by me

UBC LHD17

Local Hack Day 2017 branding; designed by me

The two of us also reached out to companies to search for sponsors. In 2017, I designed and put together a sponsorship package, which improved our sponsor search by a great amount. Over the years, we’ve worked with great companies and organizations such as TTT Studios, Microsoft, SAP, Slack, and A Thinking Ape.

Local Hack Day 2018

In 2018, we joined with the team behind nwHacks under the name nwPlus. As two people, there was only so much that we could do; as nwPlus, we’re a 34-person AMS student club, allowing us to delegate tasks and share responsibilities. We also welcomed Allison into our team, and we are so lucky to have her: she’s amazing and fully understands our mission statement, and much of this year’s event success can be attributed to her.

Merging two organizations is no small feat, and it came with lots of hiccups along the way. I had to learn to let go of the small details, and focus on my goals for the organization. Although I was in charge of design in the previous years, the nwPlus design team did an incredible job of making a cohesive set of designs for our promotional materials and website, allowing me to work on the actual logistics for the event.

UBC LHD18

Local Hack Day 2018 branding; designed by Sherry and the nwPlus design team

Over 350 students attended LHD 2018, and there were over 40 teams of hackers who demoed to the audience and our judges.

Organizing this event was one of the most stressful parts of the semester. I was really worried about giving hackers a good experience. Although not everything went according to plan the day-of, I think that we still achieved so much, and I am proud to have organized this with the nwPlus fam! One of the most difficult aspects was balancing the nature of Local Hack Day with physical constraints – we wanted to include everyone and let everyone participate, but space and budget made this a very difficult thing. Now that it’s over, I already have a list of things that could be improved for the future, and I can’t wait to start working on making next year’s UBC Local Hack Day even better than this one.

You can learn more about our 2018 LHD event at the following:

Hearing the feedback and comments from so many people saying that we gave them the opportunity to push themselves beyond their comfort zones and realize how much they can accomplish really gives me such a huge dose of happiness.

It was so shocking and incredible to find out that we were the largest Local Hack Day in North America. From 230 applicants in our first year to 763 applicants this year, it has been an incredible experience to witness the growth of this community at UBC. It’s very near and dear to my heart that we have been able to give this experience to so many participants — especially many beginners and first time hackers.

The passion and enthusiasm of our community to learn, build, and share never ceases to amaze me. I can’t wait to see what the future years will bring.