Chi Ladies Hack - the Hackathon with a purpose
Chi Ladies Hack is a hackathon that took place in Chicago during this past weekend. The idea was to bring women developers together and work on projects for nonprofit organizations. Arduino was happy to be among one of the sponsors of this event.
Approximately 60 lady hackers and designers participated, and with volunteers, coaches, liaisons from various non-profits, and representatives from the various tech company sponsors, approximately 100 people attended the event.
The Chi Ladies Hack hackathon diverged a bit from the typical hackathon structure, in which participants are given a prompt, think of a project to create, and then get to hacking. Leading up to the hackathon, Chi Ladies Hack organizers partnered with local non-profits and small-businesses to spec out projects needed by these organizations. On Friday participants were given their team assignments and got acclimated with their team as well as the project. They also installed any codebases or software necessary to have a successful day of hacking on Saturday.
On Saturday morning, lady hackers arrived bright and early at 8am ready to continue the work they’d started the night before. The early birds did get the worms though, as the day began with a raffle of awesome prizes, including Arduino starter kits. After an energizing morning, everybody puts in a full day of hard work hacking on their projects. Liaisons from each organization were also present throughout the weekend to provide additional guidance regarding the projects. Each team had one or two “Coaches” — developers from a number of tech companies including Pivotal Labs, Dev Bootcamp, Enova, and ThoughtWoks.
The teams of lady hackers ultimately carried out much-needed tech work for the Red Cross, Women and Children First Bookstore, Women on Call, the Midwest Access Coalition, and Neighborhood Parents Network, and also created data visualizations of open source data on women in tech. Projects included the overhaul of outdated or non-mobile friendly websites, resolving existing issues with a smoke detector app, adding photo and video messaging to a text-based emergency response system, building out a volunteer management portal, adding a location-based coupon finder app to an existing site, and building a mobile app matching volunteers with opportunities.
Chi Ladies Hack hackathon turned out to be a great event, both for the organizations that submitted projects as well as the hackers themselves, many of whom walked away with new skills and new friends.