Past Attendee Spotlight: Kelsey Esposito

IMG-20180512-WA0010Meet Kelsey Esposito! She is a rising sophomore studying data science at Northeastern University. Kelsey was a first time hacker who attended HackBeanpot 2018.

“Going in I was a little overwhelmed because I had only had a semester of computer science. I was kind of nervous that I didn’t have the skills I would need going in. But the staff and other college students who were helping run it all helped us along the way. I had only had experience coding in Java and Dr. Racket, and they helped us use Flask, Python, and Indico APIs. Although our final project wasn’t this huge, spectacular complex thing, it was fun and I’m glad I had the experience to try out different things I would not have when I was on my own. “

At Hackbeanpot, Kelsey met a group of freshman girls who also go to Northeastern. Together they made Zodihacks, a website that will guess your zodiac sign based on the text you write about how you felt about your day. Their project used an Indico API that takes text and associates it with a Myers-Briggs type, which they used to tell the person’s zodiac sign.


“At first we had a little room where we were brainstorming and throwing out ideas. We really didn’t know what we wanted to do at first, but then someone was like let’s do something with zodiac signs and let’s be a little silly. And so we just took that and we were like okay let’s try the API, because we knew Indico had a special award for using their API. We had some mentors come in and show us how to use Flask and Python because not many of us had even seen that before.”


“It was definitely a learning experience and we had a lot of help from other people, but we divided up parts of the project. One girl worked on Flask, other people worked on matching the Myers-Briggs type with the API, others worked on what the website was going to show when you had a certain zodiac type. One girl knew how to use Photoshop so she made graphics to go along with it, other people wrote up the text to talk about your zodiac sign. We worked very collaboratively and it worked out really well for us.”

As a data science major, Kelsey felt she learned skills about programming that she could not necessarily learn in her classes. One of Kelsey’s favorite parts of HackBeanpot was getting to know the people on her team – people she is still friends with today! She enjoyed collaborating with them and was excited to meet other women who are also in computer science. Her team’s goal was see what kind of project they could come up with in the given timeframe, create something fun, and get a better idea of the kind of skills they could learn in the future.

“I had a really awesome time and I recommend anyone who’s interested in going to a hackathon to go to HackBeanpot. It was definitely a creative environment and even if you didn’t know much you could learn so much from the people there.”

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What to Bring to HackBeanpot 2018

With less than a month until HackBeanpot 2018 (has the year really gone by that fast?) you may be wondering what to pack. You may know there’ll be swag and plenty of good food, but what about everything else? Fear not, we have compiled a list of everything you should bring to the hackathon.

The Essentials

  • Laptop (duh) – it will be quite difficult to do any hacking without a laptop.
  • Laptop charger – don’t be caught in the middle of a brain train only to have your computer die!
  • Cell phone – communication is important.
  • Phone charger
  • Scrap paper / writing utensil- there might not be a whiteboard handy when you need it, so have some scrap paper ready!


  • Resume (or upload one here) – land that next co-op or internship with one of our fabulous sponsors!
  • Slack account – join slackbeanpot for important updates before, during, and after the event.
  • Github account – Whether you’ll be working alone or on a team, github is one of the best ways to keep track of all of your code. Brush up on your skills beforehand by following this git tutorial!
  • Toiletries – deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste are all recommended, whether you plan on staying the full 40 hours or not. We do, however, hope you’ll go home and shower during the hackathon.
  • Any hardware you may need – while HackBeanpot encourages hardware hacks along with software ones, we are unable to provide materials needed for it.

Welcome New Core!

Recap and Shout-outs

Thank you to everyone who came to HackBeanpot 2017. We couldn’t have done it without all the awesome judges, mentors, speakers, and most importantly–the hackers. Over 130 attendees from Northeastern, Berklee, UMass Amherst, Boston University, Harvard, and many more came who spent 20 hours over the course of the weekend building cool projects, attending tech talks, collaborating to learn new skills, and eating fantastic food. Check out some of the projects that were made.

new Core();

We have kick-started organizing HackBeanpot 2018. Meet your new core!


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: As a CS and Experience Design major, I want to make HackBeanpot a place where anyone can feel welcome, engaged and encouraged to get outside their comfort zone. I also am interested in helping demonstrate a stronger brand message across our event promotion efforts and at the event itself.

Strange Talent: I am so ticklish that I can be tickled without being touched (please don’t touch me!).


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018:I want to make HackBeanpot a place for people of all programming levels and of all backgrounds feel welcome and give them an opportunity to make something they’ve always wanted to.

Strange Talent: I have ridiculously loud sneezes.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: I would love for every attendee to create something that they didn’t previously think they were capable of and can proudly show to others. In addition, I hope every hacker leaves HBP 2018 with a greater passion and eagerness to learn more about Computer Science, regardless of their level of experience. And last but not least, to leave the event thinking about what they’ll build next year!

Strange Talent: I can close one eye perfectly without the slightest flinch/squint in the other.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: HackBeanpot was the first hackathon I have attended and I fell in love with the idea of hacking away for two days and seeing what cool things people come up with and can design. I hope that HackBeanpot does the same for all the new hackers at the event and inspires them to try new ideas in CS!

Strange Talent: I can say the alphabet backwards in under 10 seconds.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: HackBeanpot was such a welcoming and fun first hackathon for me, and I want it to continue to be that way for first-time hackers.

Strange Talent: I can play the trombone with my feet.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: Provide a fun, inclusive, and productive hacking experience for diverse hackers from all backgrounds, places, and levels of programming experience! Especially make sure that first-time hackers feel welcome and excited for the weekend!

Strange Talent: I can undoubtedly cure your hiccups.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: I hope that every attendee, regardless of experience, learns something new that makes them even more excited about coding.

Strange Talent: I’ve never met someone with a longer tongue than me.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: I want HBP to be an inclusive and open environment for people of all backgrounds, and somewhere where anyone can pursue their passions and explore anything that interests them.

Strange Talent: I won the Water Olympics at HackBeanpot 2017.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: The core team is filled with such innovative and passionate individuals. I’m psyched to focus on managing how we work together to make organizing HackBeanpot and the event itself as smooth and excellent as possible.

Strange Talent: I can spin a basketball on my finger. I am bad at nearly every other aspect of basketball.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: My dream is for every participant to try something they’ve never done before, and learn something that will help them in the future. I want HackBeanpot to be a great learning experience for people of all levels, but more specifically for people who have never been to a hackathon before.

Strange Talent: I can recite all 50 states in less than 20 seconds.


Vision for HackBeanpot 2018: I want every hacker to leave with the itch to talk their friends’ ears off about this amazing piece of technology they created.

Strange Talent: I can coax anyone to dance.

HackBeanpot 2017: Views From DMC-5

HackBeanpot 2017 took place March 24-26 2017. The team would like to share some of their favorite memories from HackBeanpot 2017.


My favorite part of HackBeanpot 2017 was getting to see all the projects people made. It’s really cool that first time hackers that may have limited programming knowledge can still create really great and unique projects.


Okay, I would be lying if I said I’m not tempted to say water olympics. But even more awesome than competitive flavored water was witnessing what incredibly passionate and talented people were capable of when given resources.


My favorite part of HackBeanpot 2017 was definitely the community feel of the event. From the attendees to the volunteers, mentors, sponsors and organizers. It was amazing seeing everyone come together to make dope shit.


I love the challenge of day-of mini crises and the hectic energy that surrounds running an event like this. To quote Tevin, “This thing has so much momentum at this point, there’s no way we can do anything to mess it up. It’s happening.” My favorite part was seeing everything come together (and run fairly smoothly!) after over a year of planning.


My favorite part of HackBeanpot 2017 was getting to be a part of an event that was all about creativity, passion, learning, and challenging ourselves. Seeing the drive with which hackers worked on their projects and how proud they were of the things they’d built afterwards was really inspiring. It was also great to see how our team of organizers grew together and learned to work like a well-oiled machine, and I’m really proud of how far we came.


Another unbelievable event! I met so many cool people, saw so many cool projects, and had such a great time I can’t pick just one favorite moment. I loved working with my awesome fellow organizers and volunteers. Water Olympics were legendary. Union Square Donuts were A++. And, of course, the feeling that comes from the opportunity everyone had to come together to learn and create is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.


What I loved most was spending my weekend with incredibly passionate people who were willing to push themselves and make something great! There were so many first time hackers and it always amazes me the ability of people to dive in new tech make something in just a weekend.

Why You Should Join SlackBeanpot

If you don’t know what Slack is, are you in for a treat. Slack is the latest revolution in team communication. Whether your team is an actual team working on a project or just a group of friends, Slack is a super powerful and flexible way of communicating. If you attended HackBeanpot in 2016, you may remember joining the HackBeanpot Slack group that was created during the hackathon. This year, just like last year, we’ve taken it to the next level by opening up the Slack early so ticket holders can join, form teams, and get to know each other before the hackathon.

So what should you use the HackBeanpot Slack for? Almost anything*… More specifically, you can join channels (which are subject-specific group chats) to stay updated on the topics of your choice, and also send individual messages to other users in the HackBeanpot Slack.

  • First time hackathoner? Join the Slack, say hello, find a team in #team-building, and then engage in rigorous team-building exercises.
  • Have no clue what you want to make? Brainstorm with your fellow hackathon participants in #ideas.
  • Receive important information and updates about the upcoming hackathon in the #announcements channel.
  • Create a private channel with your teammates so you can collaborate.
  • Need help with a language or a framework? You can use the Slack to find a mentor in #mentors.
  • Need to reach staff? We’ll be available on Slack so you can contact us.

After you’ve gotten a ticket to HackBeanpot, register for our Slack at Happy hacking!

More Advice for First Time Hackers

1. Create a GitHub account

GitHub is a way for teams to collaborate on code together. It also comes in handy because it has version control, just in case you need to restore or reference a previous version of your code. The following article is also helpful in getting familiar with how it works: You can access GitHub via a browser, a terminal, or a desktop client.

If your team ends up using GitHub and you are not familiar with using a terminal, the desktop client is a great way to get started. Here is the link to do so:

If you want to get familiar with how to access it from the terminal, the following cheatsheet may be of use: Otherwise, just creating an account will get you ahead of the curve and ready to collaborate!

2. Bring a resume

It’s a good idea to bring a couple copies of your resume if you are looking for a position. Sponsors are potentially looking for interns, co-ops, and even full-time employees. Even if you are not set on looking for a position, it might be a good idea to have a copy just in case you hear about something you are interested in. You can also always grab business cards to contact employers in the future!

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself: Questions you should ask at a Hackathon

This is a repost from our old blog. Originally written by Milo Davis.

One of the first things you decide when you come to a hackathon is what you’re going to build. As someone who has had projects both succeed and fail at hackathons, I feel like I’ve gained some insights into what works and what doesn’t. Below are some questions to help you check yourself before you wreck yourself.

1. Am I delaying doing something because it’s going to be hard?

Save yourself from your future self. If you ever get to a part of the thing you’re building and think, “This seems pretty complicated. I’ll get to it later”, you are in the danger zone. Do it right away! Think about how smart you are now, now imagine yourself at least 40% more stupid. That’s you after not sleeping for the next 20-48 hours. Suck it up, get it done now.

2. Does someone here know about the tools I’m using?

Build something new, build something cool, but don’t use tools so obscure that you can’t find resources to help you. This applies to both obscure platforms and languages without well-documented libraries. Run from the words “can fail silently” and things that will be impossible to debug. Mentors are also a great resource, but they can’t help you if they’ve never heard of the language, platform, or hardware you’re working with. Pick something that, even if you don’t know it, is still known.

3. Do we have enough time to finish?

Take it from someone who has been ridiculed by his friends for the past year for messing up time estimation, do something you are sure you can finish. Your project will grow to fill the time allotted, so be reasonable.

4. Are there multiple levels of success here?

Pick something simple, but that’s easily extendible. Get an easy core working first, then add more to it. For example, if you’re building a game, try to build a single level and then add more levels or a multiplayer mode if you have time. Don’t start complicated: choose a project that has simple, attainable goals, that you can build on when and if you finish.

5. Did we just pick the first idea we thought up?

This one isn’t a hard rule, but you can never get better than your idea. If you choose a good idea and execute it poorly, you’ll probably fare better than a poor idea executed well. Also, it’s a lot easier to fix your implementation as time goes on than your idea at the beginning. So pick something you’re really happy with then start, not the other way around.

6. Does everyone know what we’re building?

It’s hard enough to build something when everyone agrees on what they’re building and pretty much impossible when people don’t. It may seem obvious, but do yourself a favor: get everyone on the same page before you get started. It’ll save you some grief down the road.

In conclusion, think through what you do before you start and know what you are capable of. I’ve failed or seen others fail because they didn’t think through the weekend when they started. Push the limits, push your limits, but know your limits and you’ll build something awesome.