Today’s blog was written by Anastasia Klonowski, Software Engineering Co-op in the Communications Systems Division. Anastasia has been working on a Skype for Business plug-in and an internal DNIS directory project at Compunetix.
This past weekend I participated in “She Innovates,” a hackathon for women that is in its third year at Pitt. The event began at 5 pm on Friday and lasted until about noon on Sunday. This year the event was held in Pitt’s Information Sciences building and included a Hardware Lab. Throughout the course of the weekend, teams of no more than four people would design, implement, and demo their hack during the expo held at the close of the event.
Besides the 36 hours of coding, food, and swag from sponsoring companies, what I enjoyed the most were the guest speakers. On Saturday, we had two keynote speakers, Jessica Trybus, the CEO of Simcoach Games and Leona Mitchell, a Visiting Professor from Pitt’s School of Information Sciences. Both of them are remarkable women and it was inspiring to hear about all that they have achieved.
Although She Innovates is a smaller hackathon compared to some, it is growing every year, with fifteen teams submitting hacks this year. Besides myself (pictured on right), my team consisted of Srilakshmi Sampath (pictured in center), who is a junior computer engineering major like me, and Manasi Thakkar (pictured on left), who is a senior computer engineering major. Having competed together last year at She Innovates in our first hackathon, we made sure we were more prepared this time by having an idea of what we wanted to accomplish going in.
Since She Innovates was named an affiliated event of the Year of Diversity at Pitt, we decided to make a mobile application to promote diversity. However, only one of us had any real experience creating mobile apps. I didn’t really see this as a problem because, for me, the point of a hackathon is to learn new skills. Of course, when it gets to be four in the morning and I haven’t hardly slept at all, I start to wonder if it is all worth it, but I always seem to look back afterwards and decide that it was. After a lot of work and some struggling, I can now code a simple iOS app using Swift and set up a database on Parse using Amazon Web Services.
By the end of the weekend, Shree, Mansi, and I had created something we were really proud of, a game that teaches people about how they are different from others and encourages them to learn about and celebrate those differences. We ended up winning second place and hope to continue working on the app in our free time. I am also looking forward to participating in more hackathons and will definitely be signing up for She Innovates next year!
To learn more about our project, check out our submission on Devpost at https://devpost.com/software/footsteps-3jbadr.