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Alvaro Montoro
Alvaro Montoro

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Our Experience at the 5th Annual Diversity Hackathon

This weekend, a group of coworkers and I participated in the Women Who Code ATX 5th Annual Diversity Hackathon (check the hashtag #ATXDivHack on Twitter for all the info.)

The event was a great success hosted at Capital Factory in Austin, TX. There were more than 160 participants, and 40 mentors and volunteers... and it was a lot of fun.

Our idea was Gively, a tool that gives credits to volunteers based on their volunteering hours. Then it allows them to use those credits to donate money to a charity/NPO of their choice.

And here is our amazing team:

The Gively team

John was the back-end and database commander-in-chief; Jax (our captain) was in charge of design and UI/UX, and created a killer experience; Marie was the star programmer in charge of development; Sally worked on design and UI/UX and the presentation (and did a terrific job at it!); and I did some development and styling (I could only join one of the days).

Here are how some of our screens looked liked (kudos to Jax for the design):

Screen captures of Gively

Not all the time was spent designing/developing our project. There was a lot more to do: meet new people, discover new projects, and also discovering the stacks used by everybody (with a clear domination by React and React Native.)

And talking about other team's projects... There were many interesting projects, most of them were focused on accessibility, social awareness, and women's support (it was a diversity hackathon).

Some of the ones I liked the most were:

  • Just Buster: a Chrome extension to identify and remove language that impacts negatively in our work life (especially by women, and not limited to the use of "just" as it could be inferred from the title.)

  • Ninja Now: a real-time application to prevent bullying and address harassment wherever it happens.

Liquid error: internal

  • rePlate: an app that connects eateries to people willing to pick up food set to be thrown away, so it is not wasted. This team was the only one that included testing on their stack/project, and just for that they deserved a prize and our respect.

  • Affordable Housing Austin: an initiative to help people who qualify for affordable housing find potential homes at the best prices in the Austin area.

  • Where Next: an intelligent machine-learning-based search system for volunteer opportunities. Don't just look for opportunities, enter a phrase about yourself and see matches show up.

  • G2G (got to go): an app that helps finding nearby bathrooms, rate them based on cleanliness and accessibility, and give you points to become king (or queen) of the throne.

  • Want It: an app to allow friends and family to flag if they want something when a loved one is not there anymore. Inspired after one of the developer's mother died, it can be used in many other situations.

Liquid error: internal

  • Athenea: an app with a Reddit-like interface to help women succeed in their jobs by giving advice on how to get promotions and/or raises.

  • Fifth: an app to help with training and practicing ballet moves. It will allow picking a sequence of moves and track them to be shared with the instructor. This presentation was really funny... even when there wasn't any ballet show during it.

  • The Four Loops: created the app adVocation to help address racial/gender disparities in employee referrals, in order to boost diversity in tech hiring.

...and as in all hackathons, there were prizes! The winners were:

  • 🏆 Best UI/UX Design: Just Buster.
  • 🏆 Most Learned: Athenea.
  • 🏆 Best Tech Stack: Where Next.
  • 🏆 Best Social Impact: Affordable Housing.

Yes, our idea was great, yet we didn't win anything (bummer!)... But there's more to it than just winning. We learnt/practiced React Native, grew as a team, met new people, and had fun. We might not have won a prize, but that sounds like a well-spent weekend if you asked me.

For more information about the event, visit Women Who Code Austin chapter website, or check their twitter account. They organize many amazing events, and they are open to everyone.

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