November 27th, 2013

A huge congratulations to all of our student participants in this last weekend’s Apache Cassandra University Hackathon! From 9:00pm on Friday November 22nd to 12pm on Sunday November 24th students from the CIS Club at McGill University in Montréal, Québec Canada partook in the first ever 3 day Apache Cassandra hackathon, hosted by DataStax and sponsored by Netflix.


The reason behind chosing McGill University in Montréal, Québec to host our first hackathon is because of our connection with Shehaaz Saif, Undergraduate of Computer Science student at McGill University and participant in the Next Great Data Developer scholarship program. As part of this program, Shehaaz was one of five student finalists to build a Cassandra powered application and present live in front of over 1,000 attandees at Cassandra Summit 2013. After learning Apache Cassandra for the competition, and during his trip to OSCON2013 in Portland, OR, he was offered a job by Expedia on-the-spot because of his newly learned skill. Shehaaz wanted to give his classmates at McGill an opportunity to have fun, learn Apache Cassandra, and even have a similar experience as him in finding a career.


The rules the hackathon were simple: Learn Apache Cassandra, develop an app that followed the theme “For the Good of Humanity” and present for 5 minutes to our panel of expert judges. The students applications were judged on three criteria: Technical (60% Weight), Business (30% Weight) & Aesthetics (10% Weight).  In addition to the coding competition, if students felt burnt out while working, they could take a break by competing in a Mario Cart 64 time-trial tournament



1st Place: $1,000

2nd Place: $500

3rd Place: 1 Year of Free Netflix per Team Member

Winner of Mario Cart 64 Time-Trial Competition: “Vintage” Nintendo 64 console, 3 games and 4 controllers. 


Participating Teams


• Kai Xiong, Master’s Computer Science

• Xuepeng Xu, Undergraduate Computer Science



• Michael Williams, Undergraduate Software Engineering


Diagnose Me! 

• Lidia Dinulescu, Master’s of Science in Computer Science


Marta (Mobile Assistant for Real-Time Analytics)

• Nadim Islam, Undergraduate Software Engineering

• Lineker Tomazeli, Undergraduate Software Engineering

From left to right: Ronny Li, Kapies Vallipuram, Kai Xiong, Xuepeng Xu, Lineker Tomazeli, Nadim Islam, Michael Williams, Lidia Dinulescu, Shehaaz Saif, Brady Gentile



DataStax trainer Joe Chu joined 25+ students in the Trottier building’s computer science lab at McGill for a 6 hour training course, instructing students on how to:

• Get up-and-running with Apache Cassandra

• Installing and utilizing a Cassandra client drivers for Java 

• An overview of CQL3 (Cassandra Query Language)

• Data modeling with Cassandra to fit your application’s needs

• A full-length Q&A session


Here’s what some of the students had to say about the training:

“I think this is a very high quality training session; we’re lucky to get that at a university. Usually people at companies pay a lot for this kind of session and if you tried to learn as much as we did by ourselves, it would take much longer than 4 or 5 hours.” – Fez


“The trainnig was really good. It was really nice to be able to setup Cassandra quickly.” – Lidia Dinulescu


All in-person training coarses for Apache Cassandra are hosted by DataStax globally and can be found here.


Meet The Judges

The majority of our judging panel web-casted in via Google Hangout, all the way from Silicon Valley, to provide feedback for students on their Cassandra powered applications and score their apps based on the three criteria of technical, business and aesthetics.  Let’s meet the judging panel:

Patrick McFadin (@PatrickMcFadin) — Chief Evangelist of Apache Cassandra at DataStax

Al Tobey (@AlTobey) — Open Source Mechanic at DataStax

Christos Kalantzis (@Chriskalan) — Engineering Manager, Cloud Database Engineering at Netflix

Christian Hasker (@Chasker) — Product Marketing and Community Development at DataStax

Ronny Li — Business Intelligence Analyst at Wajam

Kapies Vallipuram — Web Developer at SeedBox


Winners, Slides & Demos

Marta (Mobile Assistant for Real-Time Analytics) – 1st Place Winners


ElectricGo – 2nd Place Winner


Diagnose Me! – 3rd Place Winner


XSquared – Runner Up