Home Science Igniting passions for programming

Igniting passions for programming


Games and Tech Editors Josh and Adam give us all you need to know about this years IGNITE hackathon. 

Have you ever fancied trying your hand at being a hacker? Have a penchant for business or maybe consider yourself a budding entrepreneur? Fancy a weekend of thrills, spills and a million laughs? Then IGNITE’s hackathon is just the thing for you. IGNITE is the University of Exeter’s student entrepreneur support unit, which pledges to support students’ ideas “whether [they] want to tackle a social problem through social enterprise, or explore and set up a commercial business.”


ignite hackathon 2
SoundSYNK at the world finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2013.


Despite the name, a hackathon is not a concentrated event to hack any university systems. The Facebook and Twitter passwords of Exeter students will still remain protected. Rather, a ‘hackathon’ is an event where computer programmers come together to develop software in a short space of time, and because of the increased pressure and the looming deadline, something has to be made by the end of it.

IGNITE’s most recent success story happened two years ago, when a team of four Exeter students came together, united in their frustration at, ironically, not being able to come up with an app idea for the IGNITE hackathon. At 02:00, with the dawn approaching fast and the muse still yet to strike these aspiring students, they decided to take a break and listen to some music. It was here that an idea struck them like electricity – the idea that the same song could be played simultaneously through several phones at once so that the audio can be boosted.

That is the story of SoundSYNK. The app, which allowed synchronous playback of music through multiple devices, won the team their category nationally and, eventually, led them to win at the World Finals in Russia and be flown to the States to present in front of 14,000 Microsoft staff in Atlanta. The group received $50,000 from the grand prize, and secured a £10,000 business grant from Creative England, as well as an offer of a place within SETsquared’s technology business incubator scheme.



After last year’s hackathon, three first year Business School students also got through to the world finals of the Imagine Cup, this time flying out to Seattle (the home of Microsoft) and attending a private meeting with Steven Guggenheimmer, a CVP and Chief Evangelist at Microsoft. Their app was called ‘Ripple’ and allowed users to connect with others close to them via simple instant messaging, the idea being that users can send messages to anyone nearby without the need to ‘connect’ or become friends first – useful for checking what’s just been said in a lecture or seeing if anyone else in your halls wants to join you for Domino’s.

Whether or not you already have an idea for an app, or just want to get involved in a technology startup, hackathons are a great way to network and to get experience and contacts, as well as enhancing your CV. You don’t have to by any means, but you can work through the night, planning, designing and programming with friends, old and new in an epic race to build the app of the future in a single weekend.

Sign up and get imagining!


ignite hackathon 3
The Ripple team, who were invited to a private meeting with Steven Guggenheimmer.




Student Start-up Pitch Launch

4th February 2pm-4pm

Social Media for Start-ups

11th February 2pm-4pm

Hackathon (Microsoft Imagine Cup) – All You Need to Know

11th February 4pm-5pm

The Student Start-up Pitch Semi-finals

18th February 2pm-4pm

The Student Start-up Pitch FINALS 

25th February 2pm-4pm

Hackathon – Microsoft Imagine Cup 

27th February 6pm – 1st March 4pm


Click here to find out more or book a place on the hackathon.


Josh Creek and Adam Smith, Games and Tech Editors 


Have you entered or are planning on entering the Hackathon? Let us know in the comments below, or drop us an email at exepose-games@xmedia.ex.ac.uk. For more on everything else games and tech, check us out on Facebook and Twitter.

bookmark me


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.