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HackHer: Females Coming Together to Create and Innovate

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HackHer: Females Coming Together to Create and Innovate

Juliana Lugg '21

Juliana Lugg '21

Juliana Lugg '21

Juliana Lugg, Contributing Writer

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Over the weekend, eight Clark students attended HackHer, a 24 hour all female and non-binary identifying hackathon at UMASS Amherst. A hackathon is a 24 or 36 hour event in which teams of students work together to create projects such as apps, websites, and robots, using a medley of technical tools. These projects can exist either on a shared coding space such as Github or a more physical presentation like a 3D print or a robot. Students of all different backgrounds come together and brainstorm ideas to come up with innovative answers to the problems we experience everyday using technology. Many come to hackathons knowing next to nothing about coding, but attend workshops and learn how to use the technology from online resources, mentors, and hands on experience. The group of Clark students was organized through TIE, a new club focused on technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Founded by experienced hackathon competitors, TIE aims to help any students who wants to be part of a hackathon, regardless of experience. Throughout the weekend, students attended various workshops to learn more about computer programming as well as other skills from professionals in the field.

Workshops at HackHer included learning to use the Google Cloud API, building a robot bug, and learn about Bose headphones. Students also had the opportunity to speak with sponsors such as WayFair, Bose, and BNY Mellon. The hackathon concluded with a demo of finished projects. Clarkies, some new to hacking and some more experienced, presented a myriad of projects, including a Google Chrome extension that played music according to the user’s mood, and a program that helped applicants apply to jobs and improve their credentials. HackHer also offered many fun and relaxing activities throughout the weekend for students to destress, such as face masks, zumba, cup stacking, and team building activities.

Some Clarkies worked with students from other schools who they met at the beginning of the weekend, and were able to interact with and learn from the experiences of students at different colleges and universities. Many students at the event, however, were not computer science majors, but were still encouraged to participate and learn. After the event, Eva Tsimboukis ‘21, a studio art major at Clark, reflected on her experience. Tsimboukis said, “It was my first time at a hackathon, but I was really encouraged by the environment that allowed me to learn how to code even as a beginner. This hackathon has really motivated me to look for more future opportunities. I have already applied to another one.” Clark students have participated and won awards at other Hackathons as well, including Harvard, Wellesley, and MIT. HackHer left Clarkies eager to attend more hackathons as well as learn code and other technical skills through classes or independently.  

Participants were also given opportunities to work with and get advice from experienced mentors. Many students got little sleep or none at all in order to finish their projects. HackHer had about 300 participants and only a third of them demoed a final projects. All of the Clarkies present pitched their projects to multiple judges in a science fair-style environment at the end of the weekend. Overall, the weekend was a success for the Clarkies who participated, and students left feeling grateful for the positive experience, learning opportunities, and new friends.

 

Students of any discipline can apply to hackathons and spend a weekend participating in a unique opportunity that could result in a technological creation that could change the world.

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HackHer: Females Coming Together to Create and Innovate