CodeDay San Diego

StudentRND, a non-profit founded in 2009, has the nationwide goal to make students fall in love with coding and get them involved in cool technology projects in their spare time. One of StudentRND’s most popular events is CodeDay, which gets students excited about coding. Particularly, it’s a 24-hour programming competition (better known as Hackathon) that run across the US every few months, usually on long weekends.

CodeDay Cities

CodeDay is hosted in cities nation-wide, including areas, traditionally underserved by tech education programs.

CodeDay San Diego

After participating in a previous CodeDay event in spring, Tom Paulus stepped up and organized the fall event, which had an incredible turnout of 100 participating students. In Ansir Innovation Center, he found new venue, and also added financial sponsors, as well as local companies providing food and beverages. Just try to imagine what 100 hungry hackers consume during a 24-hour coding event.


The student hackers organically built teams around topics they were interested in. Some teams pivoted (dissolved) quickly, new teams formed, and existing teams absorbed new members.

Equally important, Tom engaged reputable professional to serve as judges. These guys showed up at 9:00 AM sharp, on a Sunday morning, to sit down with the student teams, to hear what they had set out to do and what they had accomplished in the last 21 hours.


Project Presentations

All teams had to present their projects to the judges and their fellow coders. Not exaggerating, but I saw some of the most creative presentations in years.




Award Ceremony

At 11:00 AM, 23 hour into the hackathon, it was judging time. The four judges and the event organizers disappeared for a short period, to compare notes, I guess., and all awards were eventually presented, with remarkably inside-full comments from the judges.

The four CodeDay judges (left to right): Jerry Gitchel, Robert FaybrickEmmanuel de Boucaud, and Cordell Giesen,

Most Innovative

Emmanuel de Boucaud, Operating Partner and Managing Director at Accelerate-IT, presented the Special Award for Most Innovative Solution to Trevor, for a physics simulator, replicating gravity in a system, modeling planets and their interactions.

Best Application

With the words “The UI is so clean and easy to use, I’d start using that tomorrow.” Cordell Giesen, Entrepreneur and Technology Executive, presented the Award for Best CodeDay Application to the “Collaboardtive” team for their Interactive White Board.

Best Game

Impressing with completion, PuddiPuddi won Best Game Award. Programmed by a team of 7th graders, this game follows the adventures of a pudding cup and its quest to avoid the spoon monster.

Special Recognition

The Financial Trackers app team had by far the most members, but half of them had little programming knowledge before the event. While not complete, the team won the CodeDay Special Recognition Award for their product concept and knowledge-sharing between team-members.

Top Overall

The CodeDay Top Overall Award went to team “Username2” for their Dream Develop application. Dream Develop connects creators and developers through a simple interface. Ideas would be proposed by “Dreamers” and then implemented by “Developers”. The judges liked the story behind the app and the balance between team size and experience.

Tom Paulus presenting the CodeDay Award for Best Game

Final Thoughts

These photos hardly show the excitement and passion that this new generation of young adults has for technology. Ideas and concepts, especially with regards to team building, presentation, and innovation seem to come so easily to them, much easier than to us, I guess. However, what I found the most delightful, was the eager drive to knowledge sharing among team-members and teams.

I am very much looking forward to see what these young hackers will come up with, next February. In case you want to get involved, Tom is always looking for a new sponsor, please get in touch: