When most people hear the term hackathon they imagine people in dark rooms bashing away on computer keyboards, hacking IT systems, and stealing data stored on phones.

Fortunately, that is not the case – hackathons are unique events where people engage in fast-paced and collaborative engineering, usually in the form of developing software, to solve open-ended problems. This challenges each individual’s creativity and quick problem-solving skills.

From Sunday 6 November to Friday 18 November, Eton College held its first ever hackathon targeted at creating a prototype for an application that addresses a local or global environmental problem, in a joint effort from the STEM Committee and the Environmental Action Group. In line with COP27 aims, we aim to inspire students to become the next generation of changemakers, pushing them to find tangible solutions for our environmental issues using their existing knowledge in STEM and in coding.

Around 30 participants joined the hackathon, and each team came up with unique and outstanding solutions. This ranged from leveraging AI to predicting extreme weather events to a more efficient web browser that reduces carbon emissions during data transfer. 

One team even went so far as to construct a device in the Design Schools which can automatically turn the knob of the temperature controller on Eton’s heaters. By lowering the heating once it gets too hot and turning the heating off automatically in the mornings, the device has the potential to dramatically reduce the School’s energy use.

We hope the hackathon was a fun and educational experience for all the participants.