The first-ever SMCCD Intercollegiate Hackathon brought together computer science students from Skyline College, College of San Mateo, and Cañada College for a fun and challenging week at the end of April. This collaborative event invited participants to explore video game development and data analysis. While data enthusiasts analyzed a UFO Sightings dataset, aspiring game developers unleashed creativity by building retro-style games using Pygame, p5.js, and GameMaker. On April 22, the hackathon kicked off with an Opening Night of team activities, workshops, and hacking at the College of San Mateo.

Edan Barrios and Brendan Keane, Hackathon Organizers from College of San Mateo

Lance Ruiz, Hackathon Organizer from Skyline College, said, “Our hackathon and collaboration with CSM’s Computer Science Club being brought into fruition is something I will forever be astonished and proud to have been a part of. We truly believe there are always ways to foster the passion and potential that our collective computer science communities have to offer, with the true goal of this event being a platform to show for it.” Skyline College Computer Science Club president Tyler Kuwada added, “Organizing this event was stressful but rewarding. I’m glad that this event was able to reach so many people and give them all a chance to expand their experiences and skills.”

Getting students from all three campuses together to participate required a lot of planning and coordination. Still, all the hard work paid off, resulting in a fun and challenging experience for students. “Participating in the hackathon was a great experience! It showcased a similar workplace environment where we had to communicate with other team members and put our strengths together to create our video game,” said Melanie Gutierrez from Skyline College.

Lance Ruiz and Tyler Kuwada, Hackathon Organizers from Skyline College

College of San Mateo student Natalie Steffen shared, “I initially wanted to try to do the hackathon solo, but I met up with a partner at the opening ceremony who ended up helping bring ideas to fruition! His input and programming skills made the whole thing smooth. We both had never worked with GameMaker, but we knew that’s what we wanted to work on, to use the hackathon as a way to force ourselves to learn a new software. We won no prizes, but I would participate in a hackathon again. Super fun!”

Dasha Baitazarova, Amapola Garcia, and Ashley Gutierrez Carreto from Skyline College

In a beginner-friendly hackathon, participants had the flexibility to work remotely on projects with mentor support available on Discord over the next week. Preparatory workshops covered tools like Pygame,, data analysis with Pandas, Seaborn, Matplotlib, and more. “The hackathon was hectic, frantic fun! I found it to be a great way to take a miniature peek into what making a game is like, and I had a blast with the process the whole way through, even if I ended up sacrificing a questionable amount of sleep for it in return,” said Christian Yun from Skyline College. “I had tons of fun with my friends and learned a lot of things throughout the hackathon, game-related things, of course, but also more generally applicable life-related lessons, like time management and how to manage the workflow of a heavily time-constrained project. I am hooked and eagerly await next year’s hackathon!”

Teams showcased their video games and data analysis projects at the Closing Night on April 29, with prizes awarded for the most creative, well-presented, and insightful work. With its emphasis on hands-on learning and collaboration, the inaugural SMCCD hackathon was an unforgettable week fostering problem-solving and innovation among students across the district. “The hackathon exceeded my expectations in ways that I didn’t know were possible, especially considering this was the first of its kind. My participation in my group’s project was held back due to technical issues, but it was a wonderful learning experience overall. The hackathon brought like-minded people together and created somewhat of a petri dish where everyone present learned and grew together. 1000% would participate again,” shared Precious Sunday from Cañada College.

Mowen Tam, Sean Ruiz, Kok Ho, and Matthew Dacanay

Jonas Quiballo from Skyline College remarked, “This hackathon was fun and beginner-friendly. At first, I was scared and excited because I would be able to create a game, but I was scared that I didn’t know how I would be able to make it. Their workshops were very helpful for beginners; if you’re already experienced, you can take it to the next level. This was an amazing experience, and I was able to connect with others. 10/10 would take again.”

Remarkably, this event was organized by students from the College of San Mateo’s and Skyline College’s Computer Science Clubs. About fifty students from all three colleges participated in person and remotely, so it required a lot of help from club members. Organizer Lance reflected, “I genuinely thank all our participant pioneers, aka the brave Explorers from across our three colleges, for coming out and participating in this historic event. I also would like to thank my fellow Club Officers, Jonas Quiballo, Kaila Bautista, Jayan Pintor, and Chris Tse, for helping with the mission-critical logistics for this project event. This first launch was successful, and the wheels are now in motion. Hope to see you next year for our next hackathon!”

Article by Denise Hum
Photos by the Skyline College Computer Science Club

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *