Online hackathon: who needs it and why?

4 min


Aviahakathon-2019 at the Moscow Aviation Institute
Aviahakathon-2019 at the Moscow Aviation Institute

Hackathon is a team competition of developers, designers, managers, analysts who must prepare a hardware project or application during a sleepless weekend. A task from sponsoring customers is used as the initial data.

If earlier hackathons were mainly conducted offline, and the online format was something incomprehensible and unpopular, today hackathons “on the Internet” no longer cause skepticism. As a rule, using a special platform, participants register, then remotely form into teams and begin to compete: they create a competitive solution, communicating with mentors and judges, pass checkpoints and, finally, receive jury marks.

People who gather at hackathons are looking for new knowledge, valuable rewards and, of course, fun. The characteristic important components of the events for the participants include:

  • the opportunity to communicate with qualified mentors and technical staff of companies;

  • new knowledge in the field of hi-tech and data about employers received directly from the firm’s staff;

  • at the hackathon you can meet completely different people, solve problems from the problem area that interests you

  • the participant already knows what approximate tasks he will work on in case of employment in the organization. Such a “test weekend” makes it possible to create excellent conditions for hiring not only an expert, but also a future employee.

Why does a company become a customer for solutions?

  1. R&D. Expanding the funnel of new projects. Preparation of innovative products, features and services. An opportunity to become a source of innovative technologies and launch a pilot project with new startups.

  2. Accelerating your own digital transformation. The ability to pump the creative skills of your team. Adaptation to existing digital solutions in accordance with the principle of research through practice. Thanks to hackathons, you can actively work on the development of a technological eco-system.

  3. Increasing the attractiveness of the employer brand. Firms with strong brands lower the cost of hiring a worker. Thanks to employer branding, it is possible to significantly facilitate the search for new specialists. A firm with a strong employer brand is eager to bring in new experts.

  4. Testing of soft skills and technical skills of a huge number of applicants on real-life problems. Cooperation and the opportunity to work in the company of potential colleagues. Improving the brand of the advertiser focused on innovation.

The online hackathon is not just a forced measure due to the year of quarantine, it is a real opportunity to expand boundaries and gain new experience for both participants and organizers.

Benefits of an online hackathon:

  • no location restrictions

You can connect from anywhere in the world. Organizers do not need to gather participants at one site, waste time and effort on logistics. Potential employing companies can actually assess the productivity of future employees at a distance.

  • more audience

Fewer barriers to online participation allow for more applications, and therefore potential solutions.

  • lower organization cost

The online format does not require the lease of the site, as well as the involvement of additional labor resources.


For the second year in a row, the IT Center of the Moscow Aviation Institute organizes the International Aviahackathon in the online hackathon format, which brings together representatives of airlines, airports and IT companies on one site to create innovative solutions.

In 2020, more than 400 people from 4 countries and 19 regions of Russia registered for the Aviahakathon. Not only programmers could participate, but also product specialists, analysts, marketers, and designers. All were sent invitations to join the chat, a telegram, where information about the event was generated. The case companies presented their tasks to the participants and experts.

For each case, a separate web room was created in Zoom and a chat in Telegram, where the participants, under the guidance of curators, began teambuilding and then, in chats, already formed teams could communicate with representatives of companies whose problems they had to solve for the next two days. During the hackathon, each team communicates with experts two or three times in a separate room, as it usually happens offline. These sessions are called checkpoints. This way, the participants receive the necessary attention and feedback, and the experts assess their competencies.

Each team was assigned a curator who helped solve organizational issues and encouraged the participants – this is a laborious process, but this way it is possible to create a warm atmosphere and raise the image of sponsors and organizers.

In two days, participants must develop a digital prototype for solving the problem, prove its relevance and practical application to experts and the jury of the Aviahakathon, and present a presentation of their project. Experts assessed the relevance and practical application of the created technical solution, the novelty of the idea, creativity, ease of use of the service. Based on the results of the hackathon, they chose the best team in each case, as well as 3 prizes in terms of the total number of points scored. A team from Armenia became the winner of Aviahakathon-2020.

This year, on April 23-25, the international Aviakathon will also be held online using the Zoom and Discord services. Participants will have 3 days to immerse themselves in the problems of IT, aero and related industries with leading Russian and international companies and airports. Within 48 hours, you need to propose an idea and develop a prototype solution in the following areas: digital services for airports and aircraft, service at the airport and on board, processing and application of data from unmanned aerial vehicles.

The online hackathon format blurs the boundaries and will allow participants to unite into cross-national teams and work on truly unique cases from Russian and international organizations: Sheremetyevo, Sheremetyevo Handling, M.Video, MTS, SoftwareOne, Kronstadt, UAV Central Committee MAI, Central Committee of Mathematical Modeling MAI, using modern IT technologies Professional expertise of projects will be carried out by specialists from partner companies: Sheremetyevo, S7 Technics, Ramax, MTS, Lanit, MAI UAV Center and, of course, case managers.

Registration on the website – https://mai.ru/aviahackathon/


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