In January, my fellow Dev Evangelist, Swift, and I attended PennApps, a 48 hour hackathon at UPenn in Philadelphia. PennApps is the biggest university hackathon in the world (500+ attendees!) and is organized and hosted by UPenn students. Swift attended PennApps in the fall of 2012 and after having a great experience, was really looking forward to seeing what the students would bring in the spring. We weren’t disappointed!

Swift did a live demo of the SendGrid API that utilizes Tumblr and an Arduino board (that showed his love for a certain popular Ryan Gosling meme!). Check it out.

There were a ton of great hacks throughout the weekend as well as some serious prizing (worth over $25k).  Our favorite hack was Mosiac–check out the demo here, which allows you to enlarge photos to multiple displays. Pretty cool. You can see all of the demos from the event here.

From  a SendGrid perspective, our favorite hack was Mrs. Coffee. This hack was awesome because it lets you use your phone to request a pot of coffee to be brewed. Once it’s done, the coffee maker will email you. Also, if you enter your company’s stock symbol, it will automatically brew strong coffee if the price is going down. To do this, the team (Sai, Ankit, Sourabh, and Suvamsh) hacked a coffee maker by opening it up and soldering wires that connected to an Arduino. It was a very useful and well implemented idea. The team won SendGrid’s prize–a Lego Mindstorm Robot and a book about hacking said robot with an Arduino.

Outside of demoing and checking out the awesome SendGrid hacks, we even sponsored midnight ice skating and ice cream. Choco Tacos anyone?

Overall, it was a great event, as expected. You can see more pics from the weekend on our Facebook page. Congrats to all of the winners and to Mrs. Coffee, and thanks to Penn Apps for putting on such an innovative weekend.

To see where Swift and I will be on the road next, check out our Event Calendar or find us on Twitter: @thinkingserious and @SwiftAlphaOne.



Elmer Thomas is SendGrid's Developer Experience Engineer. His mission is to help SendGrid live up to its slogan: "Email Delivery. Simplified" by improving the lives of developers, both internally and externally. Via all sorts of hackery, of course. Follow his exploits on Twitter and GitHub.