Wandered down to the aftermath of the Summer of Tech hackfest on Saturday. The hackfest featured 6 teams of students building applications from 11AM to 4PM in Rails, PHP and .net. There were clearly a number of talented individuals present, but what I found most interesting was the different approaches and goals of the teams depending on their technology.
The Rails teams both created applications from scratch. A very simple beginning to a bug tracking application and a significantly more involved first step to building a course search and management tool for searching for and selecting a course load based on a set of constraints. I liked these, particularly the second one as it was a useful thing that didn't currently exist(and still doesn't, they're nowhere near done).
The PHP teams both seemed to be writing extensions for existing CMS'y things. Good stuff there, but without knowledge of what the systems already did it was hard for me to judge. The tacking on bits and pieces to other things amused me in the way that PHP always does though.
The .net teams were probably the most technically impressive in this particular case (I believe it may actually be a language that the Universities teach). One team produced a twitter client, which seemed of reasonable quality though I still have no real knowledge of what exactly was already present in .net for it. The other .net team was the stand out though, with a multi-player pong implementation over tcp/ip that suggested a particularly impressive development pace to get out the door in 5 hours. And Pong would win on geekery points anyway.
Everyone appeared to have put in a solid effort and the mentors I talked to were positive about the day. Hopefully some of the teams will continue with their projects, I'd particularly like to see the finished course selection site. Really, I suggest to everyone they should have side projects.