WiCHacks 2018

This past weekend I volunteered at WiCHacks 2018. It is a yearly event held at Rochester Institute of Technology in February. WiCHacks is unique in the world of hackathons and Major League Hacking(MLH). Below is the event description taken from their website

WiCHacks is an all-women, 24-hour hackathon hosted by Women in Computing at RIT. A hackathon is a collaborative programming event in which participants create an app, website, game, or other piece of software over the course of the event.

This event is open to all skill levels: from women who haven’t programmed at all, to the best women programmers out there, it will be great day to learn, invent, and create the future!

My volunteering shift was offically from 4:30 PM to 7:30 PM Saturday and 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM Sunday but I was so involved and interested in the hackathon that I stayed past the end of my shift on Saturday. I spent some time talking with Henry Sanuiak, CTO and co-founder of FriendlyU. Before I knew it, it was 3:00 AM and I was finally tired. It had been snowing on and off all day so I decided I would find a corner to crash in rather than make the trek across campus to my dorm. I went through a couple different spaces before I found a relatively dark, quiet and cool space with a couch in the lobby of Slaughter Hall. I rolled up my coat as a pillow and placed my hat on my face and slept as well as can be expected before being awoken by an RIT Public Safety officer inquiring what I was doing sleeping on a couch in the lobby of an academic building at 4:30 AM on a Sunday. I mumbled something about sleeping and being with the others at which point he asked if there was an all night event going on. I then slightly more coherently informed him that there was indeed a hackathon by the name of WiCHacks taking place at which point he apologized and went about his business.

When the sun rose about 2 hours after that, I ventured back to the main area and took over at the MLH Hardware Lab table where the participants can check out hardware such as Raspberry Pis and tablets to use for their projects. As the morning progressed, the hackers who had dared to sleep began to rise and after consuming some breakfast continued on with their projects. Around 2PM I was talking with another volunteer when a participant approached me an asked if I could help them put their code on GitHub. I obliged and walked them through the process of creating a new local repository with git, adding a remote and then add, committing and pushing the changes.

As the event drew to a close, I walked around looking at all the projects. I was glad to see that participants I had helped during the event had been able to get their projects working. Some projects that stood out to me in particular were BuddySystem(DevPost)(on GitHub) and AllTheCodingLadies(DevPost)(on GitHub).

I really liked the idea behind BuddySystem though it saddens me that that is needed in today’s world. The part that I will remember about AllTheCodingLadies is this paragraph from the app demo:

Sister Mary

All in all I had amazing experience, met amazing people and honestly wish I had discovered this opportunity earlier than my senior year. What I want my readers to do now is encourage the women in their life to code. Nurture their love of STEM and all that is geeky. They are the engineers, coders, sys admins and scientists of the future.

Written on February 12, 2018