The Rocket Blog

Cat Chess and Remote Rainclouds: RocketFuel Participates in Another Unforgettable HACKmemphis
By Tonya Thompson on Sep 18, 2015
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When an event description uses the terms ‘free form’ and ‘hacking’ in the same sentence, you know it’s going to be one hell of an event for techies.  And this year’s HACKmemphis event – held from September 11th through September 13th – didn’t disappoint. 

HACKmemphis is a Memphis-area nonprofit that hosts a weekend hackathon event once a year, encouraging developers and designers of any background (or technology) to come together to work on whatever projects interest them. From their own site, HACKmemphis describes it as a “free form weekend of hacking on software and hardware projects.” 

“The things people were able to create and learn over only 42 hours was amazing,” says Nicole Lewandowski, a web developer and programmer at RocketFuel.  “What I love about HACKmemphis is that people can work on a personal project alone, or rally people together to help them. You can come with your own equipment and ideas, or be inspired by all the machinery and resources that were made available by HACKmemphis and the MidSouth Makers. I love that this event allows you to focus on something that you want to start, are in the middle of, or to find inspiration – without the distractions that normally surround us.” 

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And it’s not just techies who can be involved – anyone with a creative bent and the willingness to experiment with technology can get something out of the event. RocketFuel’s Account Manager, Maria Griffo, a former graphic designer and film student who has worked with art across various mediums, is an example. 

“When I first happened across an article about 3D printing in 2012, my world was rocked," she recalls.  "I ran to a coworker's desk and proclaimed, 'This is going to change everything!' However, as I realized the limited access to the technology at the time, the spark faded. Three years later, I found myself at HACKmemphis with a weekend to work on anything I could dream up.  I knew that I needed to do work with the 3D printers.  My objective became to design and print my own chess set.  My passion for 3D printing technology is now reignited and I am encouraged to continue working in this medium."

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In addition to a 3d cat head chess set (that’s right, the pieces have cat faces, would you expect anything different from RocketFuel employees?), another HACKmemphis participant created a remote-controlled cloud that can change colors and simulate lightning. The technology behind the device was an Arduino, which is an open-source electronics platform based on user-friendly software.  Surrounding the component was polyfill material to create the look and texture of a cloud, and the entire piece was controlled with a light remote.   

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HACKmemphis held its first event in September 2013 with the goal of helping the local tech scene thrive through networking and collaboration.  All money raised goes directly into creating the best event possible. To learn more about HACKmemphis and other tech events going on around the Memphis area, check out the HACKmemphis website