The Third International Women’s Hackathon is now in full swing, having launched on October 11, 2014. A unique crowdsourcing event designed to empower young women leaders in computer science, the hackathon provides a fun and safe environment in which participants explore computing as a means of solving real-world problems. This year’s hackathon should draw more participants than ever, because, in response to requests from several universities, worldwide local events can participate through December 12, 2014. This means that groups who couldn’t join the virtual event on October 11 can still get in on the action.
This year, hackers are devising solutions for two worthy challenges—the Climate Data Challenge (PDF, 291 KB) and the Disaster Response Challenge (PDF, 291 KB)—sponsored, respectively, by the nonprofit organizations The Nature Conservancy and Direct Relief.
At the hackathon kickoff (which took place in Phoenix, Arizona, during the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing), participants around the world worked on these challenges, connecting virtually with one another. Those of us in Arizona were excited to link up with female hackers in India, Japan, Nepal, England, South Africa, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, and Trinidad & Tobago. (You can see the conversations on our Facebook page.)
I was extremely impressed by the solutions produced by our local winners in Phoenix—Team Recovery and Team Cosmos.
- In response to the Disaster Response Challenge, Team Recovery created a quiz to help disaster-relief volunteers understand such roles as fundraising and coordinating with government and nonprofit agencies. The team intends to develop this solution into an interactive game for their final entry in December.
- In response to the Climate Data Challenge, Team Cosmos built a story game that walked users through the climate data wizard from Nature Conservancy, helping users understand what the data really means. Their goal is to help users make sense of climate change and to recognize what they can do to help preserve planet Earth for future generations.
Other teams around the world came up with equally impressive solutions, and now, with the extended deadline, we look forward to even more innovative ideas from women hackers worldwide. We encourage you to find an event near you or start an event of your own. As an added benefit, hackathon participants can now submit their finished solutions to the Imagine Cup World Citizenship or Gaming challenges. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Microsoft Research diversity.
—Rane Johnson-Stempson, Principal Research Director, Microsoft Research