Engineering Perspectives

IX Engineers Transform Ideas into Reality

Just as the heat of the summer started to make its presence felt across Canada, IX Engineering put development on hold for a few days to kick off our third annual IX Hackathon.  What better way to invest in innovation and creativity than to host our largest Engineering event ever at the Struck Contemporary Gallery in the heart of Toronto. Amongst the colorful and provocative pop art, teams showed off their creative streaks by diving into unexplored technologies and approaching interesting new problems in innovative ways.

With 35 hours of hacking on the menu, this event can challenge even the most caffeinated of developers — yet our teams showed inspiring passion in solving the problems they set out for themselves.  Given only a theme of “technology buzzwords,” teams organized and rallied around solving problems using an array of the year’s most beloved buzzword technologies like machine learning, smart speakers, artificial intelligence, facial recognition and more.

It takes more than caffeine to keep developers pumped through an event like this.  Our IX Marcomm Events team pulled together an impressive array of gourmet popcorn buckets, macaroni and cheese food trucks, handmade breakfast sandwiches and the occasional social hour.  A quick snack or rejuvenating drink with friends was never far away.

As much as any hackathon is about having fun, with great prizes on the line teams were eager to show off their experiments.  What started as 30 teams were whittled down to six finalists, who presented their impressive projects to a panel of judges and their peers. After much deliberation, tabulation and anticipation, the winners, team O(no) from Montréal, blew it out of the water with their Speech Analysis tool, analyzing and contrasting the words, patterns and rhythms of famous historical speeches against each other.

Paul Mullen, software engineer and team member of team O(no) walked us through his team’s approach. “The idea was that when it comes to communication, humans are hard-wired to focus on semantics over mechanics, but there is a lot of interesting information hidden in the mechanics that we naturally ignore.  Our hope was that by focusing on uncovering the ‘how’ of speech via metrics and graphs, we could enable people to better understand and control their own speech patterns, and the behaviours connected to them.”

What’s amazing about an event like this is that there are so many upsides for everyone involved.  It’s an investment in our engineers to give them room to test their limits, explore new technologies and tackle problems they wouldn’t normally encounter in adtech.  It’s an opportunity for people to work with and get to know people from other divisions, and just maybe it ignites a spark that pushes the boundaries of how we approach problems in our industry.

After many hours of hacking, IX’ers celebrated another successful hackathon by heading to Wychwood Barns for our annual summer BBQ. Joined by family, IX’ers wrapped the week with Jenga, board games, corn hole and other summer games.

Thank you to everyone who made this event a roaring success including all of our talented engineers who participated! Be sure to check out the photos from the hackathon & BBQ, and discover the annual event broken down by the numbers below:

An infographic displaying metrics from the Engineering Hackathon including the total number of engineers in attendance, the code languages used, and the most common buzzwords used.

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