Your questions, answered
This is the first time anything like this has happened at Macalester and we know you have questions. We do too!
To ask a question about the Macathon, its rules and regulations, and how to participate, please email Reid McLean '72 at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other questions about your idea or project, we recommend consulting our Macathon mentor pool.
- How technical and computer-y do the projects need to be?
- What pre-work is acceptable?
- What do you mean by "the quality of a team's prototype, beta, or mockup?"
- Can you say more about the presentation and the judging criteria?
- Do we have to attend the presentations of other teams?
- If our project is a website or software application, does it have to be fully operational at the end of the Macathon work period?
- Does our project have to be something that our team would be able to eventually accomplish?
- Can a Macathon project be related to one of my recent (or old) classroom or independent research projects?
- How will the prize money be distributed?
Q. How technical and computer-y do the projects need to be?
A. Macathon is a mashup of idea generation, business planning, computer programming, web/mobile development, design, and innovation. The key phrase here is "technology-enabled projects," which would cover anything from a mobile app to a web-based service for providing voting requirements or comparing trash removal services.
Q. What pre-work is acceptable?
A. Teams are to do their implementation work (writing, coding, etc.) during the Macathon period beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8. Teams or team members are not to bring in partial or complete applications, graphics, etc. Macathon projects are not to have been designed and completed as part of previous academic work. However, prior to the start of the Macathon period teams and team members are free to brainstorm, strategize, plan, organize work, establish processes and member roles and generally prepare for the event.
Q. What do you mean by "the quality of a team's prototype, beta, or mockup?"
A. One of your main jobs is to show the judges that your idea will “work.” A working mobile application, a piece of software that can be demonstrated, or a model of a website or product is one way to show this to the judges, and a requirement of the competition.
Q. Can you say more about the presentation and the judging criteria?
A. Yes, we can, though we first direct you to the official Macathon "Project Requirements & Judging Criteria." Your presentation should primarily address the requirements. Macathon is a contest of ideas, and the best, most fully realized idea will win. Your goal is to clearly describe why your idea matters and demonstrate how it would work. Your team’s project will be judged on the quality and creativity of your team’s thinking and analysis. Note however, that you will also be judged on the clarity and the impact of your presentation skills as well.
The presentation can be made by one team member or by any number of your team members. And it will be limited to nine (9) minutes, plus some brief questioning if the judges so desire. Tip: If you are unsure of your presentation length, DO NOT plan on introducing any critical information in your conclusion.
Q. Do we have to attend the presentations of other teams?
A. Yes. All teams must report to Olin Rice 250 at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9, ready to present your project. Between 3:00 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., we will give further instruction and draw the names of the first two presenting teams. After each presentation we will draw the name of the next team to present, and so forth. Please stop work on your project at 3:00 p.m. and bring the laptop you will use for the presentation to Olin Rice 250, where it should stay. And we request that teams remain in OLRI 250 during the presentations. Listening to and analyzing the projects and presentations of your peer teams could be the most interesting and rewarding part of this event. That said, if presenters want to sneak out of 250 for a few minutes to warm up a presentation intro, that’s fine. But you will need to be in 250 and ready start at the time assigned when your team name is drawn.
Q. If our project is a website or software application, does it have to be fully operational at the end of the Macathon work period?
A. No. However, the more “real” the site or app appears to the judges the more convinced they will be that you can develop your concept and actually execute your plan. You will get credit for making your concept come alive to the judges.
Q. Does our project have to be something that our team would be able to eventually accomplish?
A. Your project does have to be something that your team, given appropriate resources (which would include additional personnel, funding, equipment, time etc.) could reasonably be expected to complete. It does not however, need to be a project that your 3-6 person team could finish by working in a dorm room over the rest of the semester (though it could be.)
Q. How will the prize money be distributed?
A. Each member of a winning team will receive an individual check from Macalester College, approximately 10 days after the event, for an equal share of the team's prize. The college will not withhold any taxes from the award, but the award will be reported to the IRS as taxable income. It is the prize recipient's responsibility to report any prize money received as income when filing 2013 taxes.