What Is #IBMHackademy

You may have seen me tweeting with the hashtag #IBMHackademy this week. It’s a pretty nifty program that Damon Deaner (Head of Front-End Development Programs at IBM) and I (with support from local devs and ops, we love you!) run. This week, we’re mid-way through our 4th Hackademy. It’s a twice-over milestone for us; the first of our traveling show (straight outta Austin), and the first international one (hello Toronto). All told we’ve reached about 120 individuals so far, with another 8-10 events planned this year around the globe. But what is it?

Me, talking Architecture

Hackademy is a week long immersive enablement program, focused on modern Front-End Development tools and best practices, designed to transform the way our teams deliver delightful user experiences. The event brings together Front-End Developers ( FEDs) from both the Design and Engineering arms of our house, who otherwise may be silo-ed from each-other. Front-End Development moves fast, and there are many moving pieces to it, therefore setting this modern baseline across all of IBM is an important part of modernizing, (I’ve been hanging around a lot of business people lately, forgive me) up-skilling, and T-shaping our FED community.

What does a week at Hackademy look like? It starts with a day-and-a-half long “single track conference”. We cover IBM Design Thinking, Git, Social Coding and Full Team Collaboration, Accessibility, Architecture, Task Runners, CSS Preprocessing, Responsi(ble)(ve) Design, Pattern Libraries, and Performance. We spend the 2nd half of the 2nd day doing hands-on workshops on Sass, Git Collaboration, and Vanilla JavaScript.

FEDs Design Thinking

After the conference section and workshops, the participants break up in to teams and come up with a project to build throughout the rest of the week. They perform some of the Design Thinking exercises they learned to identify who their users are, what those users’ pain points are, and come up with solutions to remedy those pain points.

For the rest of the week, they utilize a modern Node stack (complete with Continuous Integration and Deployment) to develop and launch an Minimum Viable Product of their idea utilizing the tools and best practices they learned earlier in the week. Emphasis is placed on performance, accessibility, design, and pushing our FEDs to write as much Vanilla JavaScript as they can to improve their skill with it. At the end of the week, teams give Playbacks for their projects, going through what they built, why they built it, and how they built it.


It’s been great to help build a modern FED community here at IBM, and has been amazing to see what our devs learn and how they grow, over the course of one short week. Giving our FEDs an opportunity to work without their daily business and technology constraints allows them to create incredible user experiences faster than most would consider possible before crossing the Hackademy finish line. When they return to their teams, they bring back new ways of collaborating, creating, and delivering. In the process, they’re rewriting the dynamics of Front-End Development in product delivery, and transforming how IBM works. As we continue bringing Hackademy to the global IBM FED Community through the rest of the year, it’s exciting to think about the amazing experiences we’ll be delivering.