Two new tracks will be introduced this year for ATLAS Institute's fifth annual T9Hacks, a 24-hour invention marathon designed to promote interest in creative technologies, coding, design and making among college women and non-binary individuals—groups that are vastly underrepresented at mainstream hackathons.
T9 references the Title IX amendment to the Civil Rights Act prohibiting gender-based discrimination in education. Student organizers emphasize that no programming or other technical skills are required to participate in the event. As in previous years, there will be workshops, mentors, food, games and swag, and everything is free.
A new track introduced for this year’s event is sponsored by the National Head Start Association, an organization promoting school readiness among children under the age of 5 from low-income families. Technology and interactive media are one of the ways NHSA supports children’s learning, and NHSA mentors will be available throughout the event to guide participants.
The second track revolves around empowering underrepresented groups.
"Technology is an important social force," says Cassandra Goodby, an ATLAS graduate student and TAM alumna who is organizing the event for the second year. "An app that connects members of a marginalized group can build community, empowering all its members in powerful ways. The track is really open-ended, and I'm excited to see what tools people design."
The event kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. with dinner and opening ceremonies. Teams then form and begin exploring ideas and creating technologies that tackle one of the specified challenges. The 24-hour event wraps up Saturday evening with an awards ceremony and celebration.
T9Hack's popularity has grown since it began in 2016. Last year 120 "hackers" participated and of them 65 percent were women; for roughly half of the attendees, it was their first hackathon.