Developers, coders, hackers, creative-thinkers and innovators from all over AOL huddled together all day Wednesday to develop and implement cool ideas during our Hatch Day hackathon. The goal of the event: Come up with ideas to make MapQuest the ultimate destination for trip planning.

Hosted from Patch's New York headquarters, the event pulled together AOLers from Denver, Dulles, Dublin, Lancaster, New York and several remote offices. "What makes Hatch Days so great is that teams from all over the company assemble to help make a product, in this case, MapQuest, better," said CTO Curtis Brown. "The diversity of new ideas, community building and best-practice sharing makes Hatch Day events an invaluable part of our engineering and product culture."

When I first heard about Hatch Day and its purpose I was immediately inspired to participate. I don't know the first thing about coding, but loved the idea of being part of the product development process from inception, even if it was just as an observer. The real fun began as teams came together to flush out details of their projects, collaborating and sharing snippets of code and app keys via AIM Blast, and posting offers for assistance based on their level of expertise. I especially enjoyed listening in to the Pictela team brainstorm as they built out a new concept for the Portrait/Devil ad unit.

The day flew and before long it was time for the pitch presentations. Eighteen projects were presented covering everything from plotting itineraries to a topographic hiking map to the integration of the MapQuest API to 3G-enabled Kindles. Overall, I found Hatch Day to be eye-opening by seeing the results of several teams' efforts to innovate technology for our products and revitalize the culture of innovation at AOL. There are so many ways we can cross-collaborate as a company, but the projects that were created on this day, and Hatch Days to come, prove what can happen when we communicate openly and source internal talent.

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