NESCol students design winning Duthie Park website during 24-hour hackathon

March 26, 2024

Two students from North East Scotland College (NESCol) coded their way to success at Robert Gordon University’s (RGU) recent 24-hour hackathon, winning the RGU School of Computing challenge.

Amanda Wallis and Charlie Priestley are currently studying for their HNC Computing (NextGen) at NESCol. They joined 180 participants at RGU’s Garthdee Campus for RGUHack, a free coding event organised by students for students.

Held from 24-25 February, the 24 hours were packed with a busy schedule. As well as the main coding challenges, the event included workshops, games, tech prizes and, of course, pizza.

Amanda and Charlie teamed up with another student to tackle the RGU School of Computing challenge: to design a solution to improve Aberdeen City Council’s Duthie Park website.

With 16 teams choosing this task, the competition was tough. As well as building a website from scratch, the teams had five minutes to present their solution. Amanda and Charlie’s team wowed judges with an inventive design and engaging presentation, showcasing their computing expertise and personalities.

Duthie Park’s existing website is not user-friendly and requires visitors to download pdf files to find out information. The team produced an easy-to-use site, the highlight of which was an interactive map that tells visitors about the park’s features and history.

Martin Meszaros, a former NESCol student, is now one of the College’s computing lecturers. He is passionate about students getting involved with opportunities like RGUHack.

He said: “Students learn fundamental computing skills in College, but challenges like RGUHack give them a taste of the real world.

“They need to produce a unique solution for a project with a tight deadline, and then prove to the client why their idea is best. Having to implement their learnings whilst working under pressure helps students build on their problem-solving skills and confidence.”

Amanda Wallis has a real passion for computing. She said: “I love programming. I’ve taken part in remote hackathons before, but I was keen to get involved with RGUHack as it was my first in-person event.

“I enjoyed being able to see around the university, as I would like to progress on to RGU after College. It was a fantastic experience overall.”

Charlie Priestley is no stranger to competition success. He won the silver medal in the Network System Administrator category at the Worldskills National Finals last year.

He said: “I’m also hoping to study for a degree at RGU, so it was helpful to be able to get to know the campus. The best part of the hackathon for me was when our team was picked as winners. It was great to see our hard work recognised.”

Martin added: “Amanda and Charlie are very talented students, as their win at RGUHack demonstrates. The computing department at NESCol is delighted to be able to support them on their learning journey and we look forward to seeing where their future takes them.”

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