If you’re a student/teacher that has been in any way involved in the Informatics and Engineering department, you’ve heard of Hacksussex in some way. It’s the largest tech-based society on campus and was first established in 2012. In spite of facing shutdowns during the pandemic, Hacksussex has managed to rebuild itself as a mainstay name amongst other universities/companies that host coding events across the country. It boasts a variety of different events – including weekly socials, networking opportunities  and workshops – but is best known for its competitions. 

Situated in the Chichester I building, they hold three annual large-scale weekend events – the Game Jam, Hackathon and Coder’s Cup. Since the pandemic, Hacksussex has hosted over 500 people across their events – a large number considering that the committee consists of only 21 members. I attended their Game Jam back in late November – and as a Computer Science student myself, I found myself fully in my element. The event consisted of a 24-hour long coding fest where teams worked towards the development of a game that they designed, developed, and tested from scratch. 

Despite the intense work, morale was very high. Endless snacks, meals from a variety of different cuisines, and unlimited Red Bulls – every student’s vice – meant teams were buzzing with energy. There was a strong sense of camaraderie with everyone powering through the struggle of trying to stay awake. The overall winners – Jessie Williamson, Wari Dudafa, Alex Artemiev, Jacopo Calvi and Freddie Lowes – developed a game called ‘Ricks Ranch’, that utilised unorthodox character controls and won themselves an Oculus headset each. 

Image- Hacksussex

When experiencing the event, you can’t help but notice the amount of work and dedication put into keeping things running smoothly and setting up. From setting up sponsorships with tech companies, to keeping the snack table stocked, and organising the rush of students coming in, it seems like an impossible task. Wanting to learn more about the inner workings behind the event, I spoke to Tom Harwood, manager of Hacksusex, for the details. 

Firstly, I inquired to Tom about who runs the events and socials, and he explained that the Hacksussex committee, along with event volunteers, come together to run the events and weekly workshops. I was also curious about what the teams’ biggest challenges were when organising events of this scale, and he had this to say:

I think the biggest challenges are coordinating such a large team, we each have sub-teams and areas of expertise, so communicating amongst many unique perspectives is a huge task to get things right. Our team meetings are often packed full of ideas and discussions for improving what we offer!’ 

A big question of mine, and likely many others, is the programming skill level you need to be at to participate. However, Hacksussex game jams and hackathons do not require any prior knowledge or programming skills. Tom mentions that “If you are a good team manager, or perhaps better at pitching a product, or even leading creative direction, these are all skills you can contribute to a project!” – so if you’re someone who has strengths outside of programming, gathering some programming savvy friends and forming a team can be a good way to build up your technical skills.

Overall, Hacksussex provides a social aspect to an often solitary field – allowing people of all experience levels to apply and improve their skills in a fun, easygoing environment. You’re able to try out different programming applications outside of what you’d traditionally experience in lessons, whilst also boosting your CV!
If you’re interested in following Hacksussex and the socials/events they’ll be putting on, make sure to check out their Instagram @hacksussex, for all the details!  Applications are also currently open to join their committee and contribute to their events next academic year! The link to the form to apply is here: https://forms.gle/CSB5TaX6mhFoGbnd9.

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