Aditya Oberai, 20

Hacker, Organizer, Mentor
Aditya Oberai
Share this profile

Aditya’s introduction to the world of hackathons was a bit more turbulent than most. His coding journey began in middle school, leading to the study of Computer Science all throughout high school. What was once an intense passion later became an intense case of imposter syndrome — seeing how others progressed alongside him left him very unmotivated, frequently comparing himself to others. This manifested in Aditya picking up more activities outside of the tech world. It was thanks to the welcoming hacker community that he was able to rediscover that love for coding and get him out of that rut. By shedding the fear of failure or second-hand disappointment, he was able to start fresh while learning from equally eager peers.

During his freshman year of college, he worked as an organizer in his department’s tech fest — Cyber Cup — which featured a 24-hour hackathon. Given his duties as an organizer, Aditya primarily focused  on building partnerships and bringing sponsorship to the event. He helped execute promotional activities and manage the final day on-premises hacker experience. 

Overseeing the tech fest in this way was an exhilarating way for Aditya to take a glimpse behind the curtain into the world of hackathons as well as the surrounding tech community ecosystem. The Cyber Cup hackathon saw over 150 hackers join from various parts of India, GitHub Campus Experts, and Microsoft Student Partners — now Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors. Following this experience, Aditya applied and became a Microsoft Student Partner in September of 2019, which led to an invitation to attend the Microsoft Student Partner meetup at HackCBS. This event happened to host the coinciding launch event of MLH’s APAC League. 

It was here that Aditya took advantage of the opportunity to interact with Microsoft associates as well as MLH’s CEO, Mike Swift. Those whom he spoke with gave him the understanding of the scale that hackathons could achieve as well as the platform they provided.

Following this eye-opening event, Aditya hoped to attend more in-person hackathons, a wish that went unfulfilled due to the pandemic. Fortunately, the growing opportunities within the digital hackathon landscape allowed him to pivot seamlessly. Seeing as this was a chance to grow as a hacker, Aditya leveraged the openings given to him and made the most of the event by organizing MLH Local Hack Day and HackOn 1.0, which saw over 2000 registrations.

Now fully immersed in the hacking world, he couldn’t stop there. Aditya went on to act as a speaker and judge of HackJaipur, participate as a first-time hacker at RookieHacks, win the Microsoft VS Code Hackathon, speak at MLH Hackcon VIII and become an MLH Coach. These multitude of experiences acted as milestones in Aditya’s ongoing learning process and are the very reason he shares a passion for hacking with his community.

Aditya’s favorite hackathon project is CodeCapture, a web application that aims to facilitate coding education for individuals with limited to no access to computer systems by taking code from paper to mobile. By using the web app, the user simply captures an image of handwritten code from their mobile phones, where it is then extracted to the in-browser editor to then be edited and compiled by the user.

Aditya’s journey with CodeCapture and his team members dates back to the Microsoft VS Code Hackathon. It began with different means to an end — at first, it was a VS Code extension that would extract code from an image and save it in a new file to be checked later. The idea stood ground on its own, resulting in the team’s hackathon victory. Part of the prize involved a mentorship with Amanda Silver, a CVP at Microsoft. It was during their team's discussion with Silver that they brainstormed the implementation of the concept in a real-world setting and the idea of developing the depth of CodeCapture for the upcoming Hour of Code 2020 event. Silver further connected Aditya and his team with Travis Lowdermilk, UX Researcher at Microsoft, and Jacqueline Russell, Program Manager for Microsoft MakeCode.

Thanks to the helpful words of Lowdermilk and Russell, Aditya kept in mind the needs of the customer when he and his team set out to create two more versions of CodeCapture, one being a Progressive Web App, and the other a Cross-Platform Mobile App. The Mobile App went on to be featured in the Student Showcase at .NET Conf 2020.

Aditya had come a long way from his first Hour of Code back in 2013 — the PWA was indeed accepted to be featured in the Hour of Code 2020 during the Computer Science Education Week by Code.org. That was not, however, the end of the journey for CodeCapture. Aditya and his team learned from these experiences, redeveloped their platform, and took it to the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2021, where their team was selected as the National Winner in the Education category at the India Championship.

Among the many important tenets of service Aditya has learned through his journey, the most important to him is gratitude. Be it a meetup, a seminar, or a hackathon, Aditya remains grateful in any tech community event which has always provided the opportunity to give back to those around him, as reflected in the thesis of CodeCapture. Having the CodeCapture PWA accepted as a featured activity was special for Aditya given his storied past with the event. Had it not been for Hour of Code, he would have never pursued that path of Computer Science that he has grown to love and appreciate so much. This full-circle aspect of his relationship with hackathons keeps Aditya humble and forever grateful. Beyond being grateful for his ability to work in tech, Aditya is also grateful for his community.

An aspect of the hacker community that he greatly appreciates is the assistance in the development of a plethora of skills — it was at hackathons that he learned how to build a mobile app, use a database, use an API, and try cloud services, to name a few. These are the building blocks of essential skills implemented by professional developers, which is great for building a resume, but Aditya does not fail to acknowledge the communicative knowledge he gained from his peers. Through the platform of hackathons, he was granted a space to safely interact with like-minded people and a platform to step up and showcase his work without fear of constructive criticism. He has learned how to collaborate and support his peers, as they have done for him. 

As a hackathon organizer for three years, Aditya has navigated the management of both in-person and digital events. These different contexts have granted him even more knowledge of the multiple perspectives that exist in the space. His work with various hackers in search of organizational help or mentorship for upcoming events has opened his eyes. He was even able to share this knowledge of various viewpoints at DevRel Asia 2020 and DevRelCon Tokyo 2021, two of the largest developer relations conferences in the Asia-Pacific region, where he was a speaker. In an effort to spread his experience to even more passionate hackers, he has written articles on the hackathon basics and uplifting developer communities. More recently, in an effort to create a more direct impact on hackers in his country, Aditya collaborated with various Indian student community leaders and co-organized the HackOn 2.0 Hackathon, which, with over 8200 registrations, resulted in one of the largest student-led hackathons in the world.

Aditya believes that it is the duty of hackathon organizers such as himself to empathize with their fellow hackers and enable their growth through the transferral of education that they once were given in an effort to foster a healthy community. 

The path Aditya chose wasn’t easy — he wasn’t dropped into a pre-existing culture of community in his university, nor did he have easily accessible mentors. But that is why he so strongly appreciates the community that he has now. The group that he has now, which he worked to forge, enables him to exceed the limits of knowledge placed upon him by himself and to aspire to reach heights once unimaginable to him. Because of this giving attitude of his peers, he understands that giving back to those in his extensive circle is not a choice, but a necessity he looks forward to advocating for in the future. 

Quick Facts

Pronouns: He/Him/His
Hometown: Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
School: Amity University
Graduation Date: 2022
First Hackathon: Cyber Cup Hackathon, January 2019
Favorite Coding Language: C# (.NET)
Can't Live Without: LinkedIn and Twitter
Aditya with his fellow organizers at Cyber Cup

Aditya Oberai, 20

Hacker, Organizer, Mentor
Aditya Oberai
Share this profile

Aditya’s introduction to the world of hackathons was a bit more turbulent than most. His coding journey began in middle school, leading to the study of Computer Science all throughout high school. What was once an intense passion later became an intense case of imposter syndrome — seeing how others progressed alongside him left him very unmotivated, frequently comparing himself to others. This manifested in Aditya picking up more activities outside of the tech world. It was thanks to the welcoming hacker community that he was able to rediscover that love for coding and get him out of that rut. By shedding the fear of failure or second-hand disappointment, he was able to start fresh while learning from equally eager peers.

During his freshman year of college, he worked as an organizer in his department’s tech fest — Cyber Cup — which featured a 24-hour hackathon. Given his duties as an organizer, Aditya primarily focused  on building partnerships and bringing sponsorship to the event. He helped execute promotional activities and manage the final day on-premises hacker experience. 

Overseeing the tech fest in this way was an exhilarating way for Aditya to take a glimpse behind the curtain into the world of hackathons as well as the surrounding tech community ecosystem. The Cyber Cup hackathon saw over 150 hackers join from various parts of India, GitHub Campus Experts, and Microsoft Student Partners — now Microsoft Learn Student Ambassadors. Following this experience, Aditya applied and became a Microsoft Student Partner in September of 2019, which led to an invitation to attend the Microsoft Student Partner meetup at HackCBS. This event happened to host the coinciding launch event of MLH’s APAC League. 

It was here that Aditya took advantage of the opportunity to interact with Microsoft associates as well as MLH’s CEO, Mike Swift. Those whom he spoke with gave him the understanding of the scale that hackathons could achieve as well as the platform they provided.

Following this eye-opening event, Aditya hoped to attend more in-person hackathons, a wish that went unfulfilled due to the pandemic. Fortunately, the growing opportunities within the digital hackathon landscape allowed him to pivot seamlessly. Seeing as this was a chance to grow as a hacker, Aditya leveraged the openings given to him and made the most of the event by organizing MLH Local Hack Day and HackOn 1.0, which saw over 2000 registrations.

Now fully immersed in the hacking world, he couldn’t stop there. Aditya went on to act as a speaker and judge of HackJaipur, participate as a first-time hacker at RookieHacks, win the Microsoft VS Code Hackathon, speak at MLH Hackcon VIII and become an MLH Coach. These multitude of experiences acted as milestones in Aditya’s ongoing learning process and are the very reason he shares a passion for hacking with his community.

Aditya’s favorite hackathon project is CodeCapture, a web application that aims to facilitate coding education for individuals with limited to no access to computer systems by taking code from paper to mobile. By using the web app, the user simply captures an image of handwritten code from their mobile phones, where it is then extracted to the in-browser editor to then be edited and compiled by the user.

Aditya’s journey with CodeCapture and his team members dates back to the Microsoft VS Code Hackathon. It began with different means to an end — at first, it was a VS Code extension that would extract code from an image and save it in a new file to be checked later. The idea stood ground on its own, resulting in the team’s hackathon victory. Part of the prize involved a mentorship with Amanda Silver, a CVP at Microsoft. It was during their team's discussion with Silver that they brainstormed the implementation of the concept in a real-world setting and the idea of developing the depth of CodeCapture for the upcoming Hour of Code 2020 event. Silver further connected Aditya and his team with Travis Lowdermilk, UX Researcher at Microsoft, and Jacqueline Russell, Program Manager for Microsoft MakeCode.

Thanks to the helpful words of Lowdermilk and Russell, Aditya kept in mind the needs of the customer when he and his team set out to create two more versions of CodeCapture, one being a Progressive Web App, and the other a Cross-Platform Mobile App. The Mobile App went on to be featured in the Student Showcase at .NET Conf 2020.

Aditya had come a long way from his first Hour of Code back in 2013 — the PWA was indeed accepted to be featured in the Hour of Code 2020 during the Computer Science Education Week by Code.org. That was not, however, the end of the journey for CodeCapture. Aditya and his team learned from these experiences, redeveloped their platform, and took it to the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2021, where their team was selected as the National Winner in the Education category at the India Championship.

Among the many important tenets of service Aditya has learned through his journey, the most important to him is gratitude. Be it a meetup, a seminar, or a hackathon, Aditya remains grateful in any tech community event which has always provided the opportunity to give back to those around him, as reflected in the thesis of CodeCapture. Having the CodeCapture PWA accepted as a featured activity was special for Aditya given his storied past with the event. Had it not been for Hour of Code, he would have never pursued that path of Computer Science that he has grown to love and appreciate so much. This full-circle aspect of his relationship with hackathons keeps Aditya humble and forever grateful. Beyond being grateful for his ability to work in tech, Aditya is also grateful for his community.

An aspect of the hacker community that he greatly appreciates is the assistance in the development of a plethora of skills — it was at hackathons that he learned how to build a mobile app, use a database, use an API, and try cloud services, to name a few. These are the building blocks of essential skills implemented by professional developers, which is great for building a resume, but Aditya does not fail to acknowledge the communicative knowledge he gained from his peers. Through the platform of hackathons, he was granted a space to safely interact with like-minded people and a platform to step up and showcase his work without fear of constructive criticism. He has learned how to collaborate and support his peers, as they have done for him. 

As a hackathon organizer for three years, Aditya has navigated the management of both in-person and digital events. These different contexts have granted him even more knowledge of the multiple perspectives that exist in the space. His work with various hackers in search of organizational help or mentorship for upcoming events has opened his eyes. He was even able to share this knowledge of various viewpoints at DevRel Asia 2020 and DevRelCon Tokyo 2021, two of the largest developer relations conferences in the Asia-Pacific region, where he was a speaker. In an effort to spread his experience to even more passionate hackers, he has written articles on the hackathon basics and uplifting developer communities. More recently, in an effort to create a more direct impact on hackers in his country, Aditya collaborated with various Indian student community leaders and co-organized the HackOn 2.0 Hackathon, which, with over 8200 registrations, resulted in one of the largest student-led hackathons in the world.

Aditya believes that it is the duty of hackathon organizers such as himself to empathize with their fellow hackers and enable their growth through the transferral of education that they once were given in an effort to foster a healthy community. 

The path Aditya chose wasn’t easy — he wasn’t dropped into a pre-existing culture of community in his university, nor did he have easily accessible mentors. But that is why he so strongly appreciates the community that he has now. The group that he has now, which he worked to forge, enables him to exceed the limits of knowledge placed upon him by himself and to aspire to reach heights once unimaginable to him. Because of this giving attitude of his peers, he understands that giving back to those in his extensive circle is not a choice, but a necessity he looks forward to advocating for in the future. 

Quick Facts

Pronouns: He/Him/His
Hometown: Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India
School: Amity University
Graduation Date: 2022
First Hackathon: Cyber Cup Hackathon, January 2019
Favorite Coding Language: C# (.NET)
Can't Live Without: LinkedIn and Twitter
Share this profile
Aditya with his fellow organizers at Cyber Cup

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