Betty and I are competing in the Cajun Code Fest in Lafayette this weekend. The winner gets $25K, so if we win, we will promptly forget that we know any of you.
Cajun Code Fest is a code-a-thon, which means we have roughly 2 days to come up with a cool technical solution to a given problem. This code-a-thon is attempting to tackle the issue of Childhood Obesity. We've been given access to a large number of data sets that the government has been accruing over the last several years, and now we get to try to come up with some innovative way of showing or using that data. We have info on the price of food, calorie info, locations of fast food restaurants, insurance information, toxicoligy maps... you name it, we've got it. Our main issue is that we have so much data that we don't know where to begin!
Cajun Code Fest's major sponsor is Microsoft, which has an electronic medical record application called HealthVault, which conveniently has several APIs that we can use. And at the event we'll get to hear from Joey Durel (Lafayette City Parish President, and more importantly, previous owner of Durel's Pet Shop in the Acadiana Mall) and Todd Park (US Chief Technology Officer). That's pretty cool.
Oh yeah, and they're having free crawfish. It's the little things in life that make me happy, people.
This event coincides with Festival International, which is a 5 day festival with great food and music in downtown Lafayette. People from all over the world will be in Lafayette this weekend.
Betty and I aren't in this alone. We've teamed up with 6 other people that we've never met before. On board we have an Assistant Professor of Physics whose domain of expertise is nano-magnets, micro-magnets and Computer modeling/simulations; as well as an Associate professor of Computer and Information Science with a PhD in theoretical/computational physics. I know, you're already thinking that we've won, I had the same thought. One of our members is an entrepreneur in the IT field. We've got a physician on board who can tell us what all of this data means, as well as an IT project manager who can keep us all in line and on task. But most importantly, we've got a guy with a cool German accent.
I've been cramming this past week on programming languages and methodologies that I've always wanted to learn but never really had a reason to use before now. I've realized again why I love programming so much - it's very satisfying to make something from scratch. And there's so much to learn! So even if we don't win this event, I still feel like I've already gained a lot out of just competing in it.
If you have any ideas on an application that you'd like to see made to help combat Childhood Obesity, please leave a comment. We've brainstormed a few ideas but don't have anything set yet. But most importantly, if you know of anyone else competing in the Cajun Code Fest, please, please, please... sabotage their computer for me. Just joking! Maybe.