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Inspiration from a Local IoT Hackathon

BY Nicole Huesman ON Jul 16, 2018

Furthering our commitment to foster diversity in local technical communities, the Intel Open Source Technology Center (OTC) is sponsoring Women Who Code Portland. This non-profit organization is dedicated to inspiring women to excel in technology careers, and has been instrumental in creating and supporting a strong community of female engineers and developers in Portland.

As a sponsor, Intel helped the organization host an IoT Hackathon this spring. Hannah Vinzant helped coordinate the sponsorship, Anisha Kulkarni Dattatraya gave a lightning talk on ‘IoT Security on Android Things’ and Jessica Zhang helped judge the hackathon. We spoke with Hannah, Anisha, and Jessica about their takeaways from participating—and why events like these are important in furthering diverse, inclusive teams.

Innovation thrives in Portland

The goal of this event was to help participants gain programming skills and work in teams to build solutions in support of the theme, Sustainable Futures. Teams had only 15 hours to complete their projects before presenting them to the judges. The judges were impressed with the ingenuity of all of the teams.

“The passion and energy of such bright, creative minds who dedicated their weekend to collaborating to build cool solutions that have the potential of improving the world around us was both inspiring and lots of fun,” said Jessica Zhang, Software Engineering Manager in Intel OTC.

Team Awesome, who won first place, developed SeatPeek, a way for the public to gauge the crowd quality of public vehicles. Team members took home an Intel Arduino 101 and Grove Sensor Kit, plus a $1,000 Airbnb travel credit and Women Who Code Portland scarves and mugs.

Close runner-up, Team PlantiGotchi created a moisture sensor that detects when plants need water, winning $500 in Airbnb travel credits and Echo Dots, along with Women Who Code Portland scarves and mugs.

Portland is a mecca of budding female coders and their allies

Nearly 90 participants joined in the fun. Of those, a resounding 75% identified as women, while men accounted for 25%. “It’s wonderful to see the diverse community of women engineers and developers that Women Who Code Portland has helped build and nurture, and we hope these kinds of events continue to foster a diverse technical community on our path to closing the gap in the tech industry,” said Hannah Vinzant, Organizational Health Manager in Intel OTC. Allies and advocates are key in helping achieve parity, and it’s promising to see the solid support among men in this area. Although the event was geared towards women and furthering their opportunities, it was wonderful to recognize the important role of allies and advocates.

It feels great to contribute to our local community

This local hackathon was an amazing opportunity to grow diversity within the codebase community here in Portland. The feeling of uniting in the spirit of something larger than any one of us was evident in the output of all who participated. We were honored to support the local community, and are grateful to all who participated to make this event a success!

Women Who Code Portland has been a great organization to collaborate with to increase diversity and inclusion within our local community, and we look forward to continuing to work with this group of accomplished leaders.