Innovation and ingenuity are part of the collective DNA at WP Engine, where we work hard to ensure the products and services we offer our customers are tapped into the latest and most powerful technologies.    

While some of that spark comes from our roots as an eight-year-old startup, it’s also part of a pioneering spirit we actively foster through various activities during the year. Arguably some of the most impactful—and most fun—are our bi-annual hackathons, where teams of developers and engineers square off with one another for a set of highly coveted awards and trophies.

Last week, our first hackathon of the year kicked off with more than a dozen teams and respective projects. After the 48-hour build period was up, those groups presented their cutting edge ideas to a packed audience of WP Engine employees. The presentations lasted an entire day, and only after all of the teams had the chance to show off their creations, the hackathon concluded with a Star Trek-themed awards ceremony for the ages.

Hackathon awards
Hackathon organizer and Awards Ceremony MC Alan Arvesen kicks off the Hackathon finale with a Braveheart-inspired speech

Overall, the list of this year’s projects included a wide variety of initiatives which ran the gamut from implementing a leaky bucket algorithm for rate limiting and finding new ways to visualize API code to harnessing Gutenberg blocks and building a new platform for tracking and visualizing time spent in meetings.

“In a feverish two days, the hackathon lets us hit on every one of WP Engine’s core values,” said Alan Arvesen, an engineering manager at WP Engine who organizes and oversees much of the hackathon. “Aim to get better by learning something new; Aspire to lead by organizing a team; Do the right thing by finally fixing that annoying bug that’s been an issue for two years; Customer-inspired, as teams try out things they think will make a huge impact on our customers. And on top of all that, participants get the chance to build lasting fame with amazing presentations in front of the whole company.”

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Britt Hackemack, a senior security engineer at WP Engine, accepts the Warp Speed award for his hackathon team, Glade”

The winners of WP Engine hackathons traditionally fall into these two categories: Best in Show, which recognizes projects with a real “wow” factor; and Game Changer, which awards a project that is transformative and might be a game changer for the business.

Additionally, two unique awards are also handed out. For this hackathon, they were Customer Inspired, which recognized a project that has real potential to impact our customers in a positive way and was decided on by WP Engine’s Chief Customer Officer, Tina Dobie; and Warp Speed, a Star Trek-themed award, which focused on a project that may still need some work, but accomplished an amazing amount towards a finished, completed project in the short timespan of the hackathon.

The hackathon winners from the 2019 Q1 hackathon are:

Best in Show: Mess of Vaguely Song-Shaped Audio — this team, comprised of Daniel Bennett and Dakota Kopczynski, composed a “song” using only audio recorded during the hackathon. 

Game Changer: GoQueue — which included Will West, Courtney Curtis, Jeffery Dorrycott, Justin Prukop, Michael Glover, and Nate Gay, built an NGINX fork replacement that extracts queueing logic and transfers it into a standalone service, allowing users to get up-to-date with NGINX security and feature releases.

Customer Inspired: Are You Down — featuring Thomas Brezinski, William Forson, Josh Yelton, and Mark Van De Weert, built a better method for monitoring uptime on all of our servers and installs.

Warp Speed: Glade — comprised of Britt Hackemack and Brian Meixell,  built a new way to monitor public plugin changes on to track and alert on security patches.

Come Work with Us

Do you enjoy building technical projects similar to those listed above? WP Engine is currently looking for passionate individuals to join our Engineering teams at both our Austin headquarters and in Limerick, Ireland. For more information, check out our careers page.