Women in Informatics (WINFO), an iSchool student group, increased participation in their annual Hackathon five-fold this year. More than 50 students formed 11 teams to compete in the 9-hour Hackathon that took place in Mary Gates Hall on October 11.
“We ramped up the PR this year,” said Jessalyn Cheng, president of WINFO. “We reached out to CSE, Girls Who Code, HCDE and the whole school. Jenny Chen did an amazing job with the poster, too."
WINFO leadership decided on the themes, found the sponsors and judges, and managed logistics for the event – which meant they didn’t get to participate themselves, but they reported learning a lot about event management, communication and collaboration skills, and how to inspire others.
“I see a lack of women in my classes. I am hoping with this Hackathon that the young women who were willing to join us for an entire day of coding will consider Informatics. Some of them didn’t even know how to code but they wanted to learn,” said Michelle Le, WINFO Director of PR.
The Hackathon offered two information problems a team could select when building an application or a game: climate change or disaster relief. Inspired by a presentation from Twilio, a telecommunications company, Team Scooter developed an app to make it easy for students to keep track of their carbon emissions to win honorable mention in the climate change category.
“The creation of the idea was a big part of why we won,” said Wendy Kung, one of five Informatics students on Team Scooter. “I think that ours was the most viable in the field. We focused on commuting to a specific place, targeting UW students going to school every day. And we also explained how corporations could use it, too.”
The Hackathon itself offered a taste of real world experience to students who are used to specific assignments from instructors. “Understanding how to build something where you are deciding what it is and changing the idea as you're developing is a very useful experience,” said Amber Amin from Team Scooter.
“The WINFO Hackathon was a huge success,” said iSchool Assistant Professor Katie Davis, who was one of the judges. “Jessalyn Cheng did an amazing job organizing the event, with help from WINFO officers Michelle Le, Vivian Teng, Louise Fan and Jenny Chen.”
The judges and winners are listed below.
Laura Butler – Microsoft
Paige Pauli – Girl Develop it!
Robin Mays – PHD Student in UW HCDE
Katie Davie – iSchool
Scott Barker – iSchool
1st Place Winners: Know ur Zip
Scooter (Honorable Mention: Climate Change)
Seattleite in Quebec (Honorable Mention: Disaster Relief)