Nexcon3: Hack-a-Superpower with Bluemix

An asteroid coming straight to planet Earth. A devastating solar flare. A threatening alien invasion. Mankind is in trouble, and they need the help of superheroes. But, no superhero can save everyone at once. People need to be forewarned before all else. To help them get ready, several teams of young developers from universities around Metro Manila were assigned to create an app that will bolster up the people when mega-disasters like these occur.

As a part of Nexcon 3 – a two-day celebration of fantasy, science fiction, the science behind it, and a gathering of fans from all over the country – DevConPH and IBM collaborated with and held a Hackathon in line with the genre of the celebration at the Mall of Asia SMX Convention Center last April 2-3, 2016, where students enjoyed two days of ‘learning how to Bluemix’ and a bonus engagement with cosplayers from all around the Philippines. Prior to the main event, a briefing on Bluemix APIs were conducted last March 30, 2016 at Oakwood Ortigas.

Bluemix is an implementation of IBM’s Open Cloud Architecture, leveraging Cloud Foundry to enable developers to rapidly build, deploy, and manage their cloud applications, while tapping a growing ecosystem of available services and runtime frameworks. – IBM


Students were given a chance to spend the day coding their disaster-preparedness and alert app. Mr.Tom Neil Wagan, External Relations Manager from IBM, acted as the host for the hackathon. To start the event proper, RJ Ramirez from DevelopersConnect began with introducing the non-profit org’s pledge of service to the IT industry.

RJ Ramirez from DevCon presents the organization’s mission to the developing community.
Tom Wagan, IBM External Relations Manager, warming up the morning session.

A few team members from the participants introduce themselves to break some little more ice.

The audience watched a short clip about IBM’s evolution as it reached its 100th year of innovation. In the book Making the World Work Better, IBM tells a story of its progress.

IBM engineers and scientists invented many of the building blocks of modern information technology, including the memory chip, the mainframe, the personal computer and even new fields of mathematics. This story points to the future of science, and of thinking itself.

IBM’s business innovations-from progressive workforce policies, to new ideas of societal responsibility, to global engagement, to the deliberate creation of corporate culture—shaped the modern corporation.

IBM’s big bets—including enablement of the US Social Security System, space travel, modern banking and more—made a lasting impact on our world, and laid out a path to progress the company is still pursuing today.


Whether a team consists of a full-on three or a one-man team, they all possessed the ability to save the world (or in this case, create an app). But only one team will be chosen to take home the ultimate prize. PHP 12,000 worth of gift certificates from Sodexo, Event hoodies, powerbanks, smartwatches and much more goodies.








They spent the whole morning working on their codes. Bluemix served as their platform for creating and managing their apps. To pause the tension, a short game of human bingo took place during lunchbreak. Participants were given a bingo card with character personalities, hobbies, preferences, and the like. A perfect socializing game for the attendees. Almost everyone filled up the card completely. Of course, greater effort received cooler rewards.

The winners of the bingo card game who completed the patterns, receives IBM goodies.

Along with the hackaway, they were introduced to IBM Philippines’ country manager Mr. Luis Pineda. He delivered an inspirational speech about his endeavors from a competent student during his youth to a renowned developer and manager that he is today. The students were surely inspired by his talk about how he managed to discover his talent in computer science and the decisions that helped him carry out his triumphs.

Mr. Luis Pineda, as he talks about his early days as a programmer.

The ‘hackers’ were also introduced to three Bluemix professionals, which gladly gave mentoring advices and tips to whoever needed their assistance. Benzon Cervas, an IT Architect, Jerome Clyde Bulanadi, an IT Specialist from IBM, and Ranjith Radmahanohar, an Application Architect.

Mentors Benzon Cervas and Jerome Bulanadi give intructions to Team Tomas.
Participant JC from STI seeks advice from mentor Ranjith Radmahanohar.

A thankful appreciation was commended to the mentors for offering their genuine services later in the afternoon just before the day ended. A final advice from the mentors adjourned the hackathon. Their words uttered the importance of focusing on an app’s functionality features rather than design. The quality of the interface should be the least concern of the developer. Teams must focus on the usability of the software and do the best they can to meet the challenge’s requirement.

Mentors receive their certificate of appreciation as Tom Wagan thanks their presence.
Just one final moment with the mentors to end the day’s hackathon.

Meanwhile at the NexCon Main Hall

Fans gather to witness the showcase of outfits and booths at the function hall of SMX Convention Center. Participants for the hackathon were also given free tickets for this Nexcon 3 main event.


The second day was welcomed with the introduction of the panel of judges. They were DevCon President Bryan Bibat; Adrian Arcega, co-organizer of NexCon; TJ Dimacali, Science & Technology Editor for GMA News Online and the President  of the IT Journalists Association of the Philippines; Dr. Jay Sabido, IBM R&D Executive and Lope Doromal, IBM Chief Technologist. The students were then ready to present their work after a few given minutes for final polish. Although some teams appeared with a white flag, a few survived and continued their tale.

The pitching hours began early in the morning. Mangga Apps was the first one to present, followed by RAMS, Overknights, Team Tomas, and Shadow Master. Pretty much everyone had the same concept when it came to implying their disaster-response functionality. The use of GPS, evidently, and on the upper hand taking applicability of social media apps to easily inform netizens and the authority for potential SOS scenarios.

Superbly, some teams were able to apply Watson API to their work. They designed the API to behave as an artificial-intelligence chat service. It was a definite bonus for the judges’ criticism.

Teams present their one-day masterpiece.
Judges listen to a team’s presentation.

The top three teams who satisfied the judges by the level of usefulness and feasibility were Rams from Asia Pacific College, Team Tomas from University of Santo Tomas, and Overknights from Polytechnic University of the Philippines. They were obliged and privileged to present their app at the main hall of the Nexcon3 event, in front of all the groupies.

The judges, as they accept and present their certificate of appreciation.

at NEXCON3 Main Hall

The top three teams were then prepared to pitch in front of the audience, but they still did not know their winning places. To start their pitch in, Tom Wagan introduced IBM Watson and to the whole lot.

The last part of the hackathon event, lead by Tom Wagan at NexCon3 SMX Function Hall.
Team Overknights, catching the audience with their app GEODATA.
Team Tomas, on their app HELPLINATOR.
RAMS, on Flash Tap.

Finally, the places were announced, all the top three teams received hoodies, smart watches, and powerbanks, for each team member. The first place, RAMS, received an additional 12,000 pesos worth of Gift Certificates. Overknights made it to the second place, and Team Tomas, third place. Of course, there were consolation prices for the rest of the students. It was an amazing experience according to the them, as they spoke out about their app on the stage. Still thrilled and excited, they enjoyed the rest of the day around the cosplay event. One highlight of NexCon, the Cosplay Rumble, where contestants dress and act their favorite character on stage, took place after the hackathon pitch in.

The participants with the DevCon and IBM Team. See you again, guys!

For more DevCon events, click here. See more event photos here.

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