March, 2024

Empowering Student Innovation: Hristian Kostov, Judge at HackTues ‘24

Empowering Student Innovation: Hristian Kostov

HackTues 2024 celebrated a decade of innovation, returning to its roots with a renewed focus on student-led ingenuity. Organized by and for the students of TUES, Bulgaria's largest student hackathon showcased remarkable talent. 

The competition featured 70 teams exploring topics like "Smart School," "Hack Your Hobby," and "Exploring the Infinite Ocean." The projects were astonishingly diverse and complex, and each one pushed the boundaries of creativity. 

Our colleague, Hristian Kostov, a Software Engineering Manager, was among the judges tasked with selecting winners from this pool of impressive ideas. As a former TUES student, Hristian brought a unique perspective to the panel. Reflecting on the experience, he shares insights into the judging process, highlighting standout moments, unexpected challenges, and the valuable lessons learned.

What motivated you to become a judge at HackTues, and did the experience align with your expectations?

I participated in last year’s event as well, which was very interesting and engaging. As a former TUES student, I follow the school's development and am always motivated to contribute to the community.

Can you share any standout moments or projects that left a lasting impression on you during the hackathon?

The experience starts from the minute you need to wake up at 6:45 on a Saturday because you have to be at the venue at 7:30. But this can be easily forgotten when a team of 11th graders shows you a project with Docker containers, Docker Compose and infrastructure in Azure! Next, 3 of 10 teams used AI / Machine Learning instruments. 

Finally, a team of 8th graders shared how this hackathon changed their lives forever after spending three sleepless nights building a project that most interns I have worked with might find challenging to develop.

The most valuable insight from the event was a glimpse into the future; the  'kids' we see today will be senior engineers, architects, and C-level executives tomorrow.

As a judge, what key criteria did you prioritize when evaluating projects and selecting winners? Did any unexpected challenges or interesting insights emerge during the judging process?

Setting clear expectations from the outset was crucial. Considering that all teams comprised 8th to 12th-grade students had just three days to prepare, I focused on assessing each project's execution and vision. I emphasised the source code's quality and its presentation's effectiveness, giving extra points for efforts.

Hristian Kostov, Judge at HackTues ‘24

In what way do events like HackTues nurture and showcase student talent?

Hackathons like HackTues are excellent competitive platforms for students to showcase their skills and creativity in a challenging environment. If your ego is modest and you learn from your own and others' mistakes, this becomes an invaluable experience for youngsters. Plus, it shows the importance of teamwork and effort.

What advice would you give future participants?

At this level, the hackathon is viewed as a learning platform rather than a competition. Embrace the opportunity to challenge yourself, even if you doubt your abilities. Remember, failure is a crucial aspect of growth, and starting early provides invaluable lessons that will benefit you greatly in the future. 

Looking forward, what impact do you anticipate HackTues will have on its participants' academic and professional journeys?

HackTUES is a place where school, university, and business intersect. Undoubtedly, this will broaden each participant’s perspective for their future and create a network of contacts for life.