Arctic Cloud Developer Challenge

Earlier this month I was a judge at the Arctic Cloud Developer Challenge, also referred to as ACDC.

When I was originally asked if I wanted to go to ACDC, of course I said yes, AC/DC is one of my favourite bands. However, instead of a Highway to Hell, I took a flight to Oslo (not quite the same ring to it…)

From the website:

ACDC stands for Arctic Cloud Developer Challenge. It is a hackathon that happens every year at a venue in Holmenkollen. It’s 3 days of hackathon + 1 day hangover. The event was created as a social happening by and for the community as a place where like-minded IT professionals can engage in friendly competition without worrying about the mercantile challenges.

Our goal is to push technology to new limits while we learn from each other and socialize.

What makes hackathons like ACDC a great investment in time from a personal, career and community perspective?

The Rules

Every hackathon is slightly different. The ACDC hackathon comprised of 10 teams. As judges, we ranked the teams daily on various categories and awarded key technology badges that were earned by writing short blog articles of their progress and features. The ACDC blog is a fascinating journal of their progress. Other points were gained by social media postings and head to head challenges. Other discretionary points could be awarded by the judges based on their own criteria, or bribes.

This year’s theme was “Pirates of the Caribbean”, meaning that the solutions ideally followed this theme. Solutions such as “Pirate Management App”, “Pirate Recruitment”, “Plundering Opportunities” and others following the theme made the event memorable and very entertaining.


In our day to day jobs with technology we often remain within our areas of expertise and not often that we can go outside the personal boundaries to try something else. I have said before that the technologist doesn’t always choose the technology they work with, it sometimes choose them.

As a judge at ACDC, I got see individuals build their first Power Automate flow, I saw a team see this as an opportunity to use Microsoft Dataverse instead of SharePoint as a data store. And of course, almost every team utilized artificial intelligence (AI) in their projects.

Having a project/challenge to build also provided an excellent framework to not only learn the technology, but apply it to building a solution.

In day to day client work or projects, many of these folks would not have had the opportunity to try out these technologies. Now they can return to their jobs armed with new knowledge that can be applied to profitable projects.


One of the great joys of my career is being a part of a strong community. In a hackathon like ACDC, while there is competition, it isn’t a battle of winning over clients or lucrative projects. It is a collective of people looking to learn, share and collaborate. This is the true spirit of community and leaving the event, even as a judge, I felt inspired in my own work and community efforts. A lot of great discussions and plans came up during the competition and during social networking segments. More to come…

ACDC 2023


From a business perspective, a hackathon provides unique upskilling opportunities for both early-in-career and seasoned professionals, where participants can help out and learn from each other and rise to various challenges throughout the weekend.

Not only that, but I was told in years past that some of the features developed as part of ACDC hackathon submissions found their way into customer projects as well as attracted new customers to some of the team’s sponsoring employers.

As I mentioned earlier, AI played a big part in this years edition of ACDC. I am sure that having an opportunity to try out some of the various AI tools and services will result in accelerating much innovation at the various employers and in the participants careers.

Thank you

I want to say a big thank you to the organizers of the Arctic Cloud Developer Challenge. You can tell they worked tirelessly to put together a world class event and an amazing experience for the participants. This was all done on volunteer time!

Thank you also to my fellow judges. We had some good discussions and this was very hard work to evaluate, rank, and award points to all the various teams.

Big shout out and thank you to the participants! Without you, there would not have been an event. The hours and effort you put into your projects was nothing short of commendable and amazing.

And of course to the sponsors for the prizes, swag, and support. Again, events like these cannot happen without great sponsors.


This was a truly great event and I am humbled and honoured to have been invited to participate and I hope to get invited back again in the future.

If you are given the opportunity to participate in a hackathon, whether it be ACDC or others, definitely do it! You’ll have a lot of fun, meet new friends and learn a lot of amazing stuff in a short amount of time.

Nick Doelman is a Senior Content Developer at Microsoft, a former MVP, Microsoft Certified Trainer, and a Gold and Silver medalist at the recent Canadian Powerlifting Nationals. Follow Nick on twitter and watch for updates on his upcoming speaking events and community projects.

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