What I will Remember from the “Challenge the Force within Her” Hackathon

Originally posted on: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-i-remember-from-challenge-force-within-her-vassilis-stoumpos/

It was an amazing 33 hours of the “Challenge the Force within Her” hackathon in Athens. Here are the few things I want to share about the experience, as one of the judges and event organizers.

First, the mentors were fantastic in supporting the teams, without guiding towards a solution. A big shout out to MargaritaKaterinaChristinaSofiaArtemisMariettaEleftheria! I particularly enjoyed the discussions with the mentors about challenges with the team dynamics and ways to solve them. Working with different teams is always a great learning experience.

Second, the tech evangelists were AWESOME! Some Evangelists, like MariaIlias, and Grigoris stayed long hours and helped the teams out of several problems; a few problems where not trivial as one might expect. Others, like ZisisNadia, and Lampros, supported remotely and helped preparing the event. Last, but not least, Michael, Daniel, Rodrigo, and Roger offered their support from different timezones and made the hackathon look like a global event. I highly appreciate their support. It is fair to say that running the hackathon would be impossible without the help of the Tech Evangelists.

Third, the teams covered a wide range of topics. Here’s the complete ranking with some notes.

5th position was taken by team 7Loops. A team of 4 undergrads built a php/laravel application in order to facilitate citizen-government through circuit communication. Their vision covered secure document exchange, digital signing of documents, and better servicing citizens with disabilities.

Team Wonderlust took position 4. A team of 5 graduates from diverse backgrounds (product owner, civil architect, and software engineers) built a site that connects travelers, with locals in tourist destinations and tourism professionals. Their focus was on tourists that like to stay off the beaten track.

In position 3 we have team Eat Bytes. A team of 3 graduates (software and economics) created a site that helps users, through gamification, to follow a better diet. Users connect via circuit (and other means) to nutrition experts, food companies and restaurants to achieve their personal healthier-life targets.

2nd place for team Scrum Task: a team of 2 undergraduates in software engineering envisioned a way to track tasks in conversations using a board. They presented a flexible board with columns named to-do, doing, done, and blocked. Bonus: their example data came from Monty Python quotes. 😊

1st place for team “Challenge the 4ce“. The team that took the first place consisted of 4 members, all from diverse backgrounds. Their prototype added event calendaring functionality to circuit. Users can schedule events in circuit, and participants can accept or reject the event. A bot notified users when the event was about to start and shared hints about whether their close associates are joining or not.

Fourth, very interesting panel discussions and presentations.

On Friday night, our Atos Global Chief Diversity Officer, Denise Reed Lamoreaux, presented the ongoing activities in the group to increase diversity, and was followed by Katerina Mantzorou that hosted the panel discussion “Women on (tech) lead. How they shape their world”. The panel consisted of ladies coming from different walks of life: from it industry (Areti Markou and Olga Azilazian), to recruitment (Manto Patsaoura), and professional racing (Polytimi Kyriakopoulou). The panel shared a lot of tips and advice for women professionals to achieve their career goals. I happily noticed that recommendations applied to men as well. In my eyes, the advice came down to being self-confident: think about what you want to achieve, don’t let anyone to put you off, create a plan, and pursue it aggressively.

On Saturday morning, I enjoyed a tech talk about the node.js framework called loopback. Aggelos Katsaris created an API without a single line or code (ok, just a few lines). Also on Saturday, Eleni Mavroeidi presented the tricky ways all of us are unconsciously biased, along with some ways to mitigate the effect.

Fifth, organizing a hackathon takes a lot of preparation and effort. We got great support from Code.Hub in coordinating/orchestrating the details, who are more experienced in running this kind of events (thanks Vassili and Gianni). Half as many of the participants and mentors slept over, which was a surprise to me (getting older?), and nothing can prepare you for the amount of coffee needed during the event.

Overall, the Diversity Hackathon was a great learning experience, both for participants and organizers alike. I am also extremely proud Atos supported a women-only hackathon. It would have been easier having a more mainstream theme and opening to the entire engineering community, but the participant turnout and quality of demos (all functional) are the best proof that women have all that it takes to lead in IT!

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