The Hackathon: A Cultural Shift

What value do Hackathons have today?

Representing a new wave of innovation and product development, “hackathons” are rapidly becoming a staple of modern innovation. While more traditionally embraced by tech companies to R&D new products, other industries are now joining the fray. The AEC industry is no exception, as digital collaboration continues to span the forefront of the most efficient and cost-effective business models. Black & Veatch is an industry leader adopting this innovative ethos, and the company’s inaugural hackathon serves as a testament to forward-thinking.

A team compares notes during the hackathon.

“The Black & Veatch Hackathon is a game-changer at a lot of different levels,” says Brad Hardin, Chief Technology Officer at Black & Veatch. “We’ve taken a different approach to the way hackathons are usually done. We’re trying to create a cultural shift and mindset of getting people outside their comfort zones to look at technology, processes and delivering work in a different way.”

Held in June 2015, the inaugural hackathon featured teams randomly composed of Black & Veatch professionals from across business lines and organizational levels—including interns and college students—all meeting for the first time inside the Rodman Innovation Pavilion at the company’s headquarters. Each team had less than 24 hours to create a new and improved workflow for Black & Veatch using Bluebeam Revu, a recently implemented enterprise PDF markup and collaboration solution at the company. “We’re looking for people willing to do innovative things and push the boundaries of traditional project delivery,” says Hardin. “This means different tools, different processes and different ways of looking at how we deliver the built environment.”