More than 70 people attended ATLAS Institute's sixth annual T9Hacks on March 19-21, and more than 70 percent of them identified as female, meeting the organizers' goal of bringing in populations underrepresented in hackathons.
Typically held at the ATLAS Institute for 24 hours, this year’s hackathon had a virtual format and was extended to 36 hours. Participants from all over the United States and world took part in the event, with 25 institutions represented, including high schools, colleges and universities. Those partcipating came from diverse backgrounds spanning 34 different majors.
"The online format was a challenge especially for those with a huge time difference (from Mountain Daylight Time), but because of the online format we were able to meet people from different countries," said Océane Andréis, a first-year ATLAS graduate student (CTD-Social Impact) who co-organized the event with Neha Kunapuli, a junior majoring in computer science. "Being able to come together as creators and inventors with different backgrounds was really amazing."
T9Hacks promotes interest in creative technologies, coding, design and making, among college women, non-binary individuals, people of color, those with disabilities and others who are typically underrepresented during hackathons. Student organizers emphasize that no coding or other technical skills are required to participate in the "invention marathon," and that everyone is welcome.
Overall, 72 percent of T9Hacks' 2021 participants identified as female, and half were first-time hackathon participants.
ATLAS faculty, students and alumni were heavily involved in planning and running the event. Thirteen projects were submitted and nine winners selected by a panel of judges that included ATLAS faculty members Ellen Do, Sheiva Rezvani, Shaz Zamore, Justin Gitlin and Aileen Pierce; TAM alumnae Cassandra Goodby, Keren Megory-Cohen and Elsa Roeber; and Julia Uhr, PhD student, Aubrey Shick, ATLAS research affiliate, and Anna Cook, TAM alumna and MS-CTD student. Mentors included Matt Dickey, TAM and CTD MS alumus; Ari Klebanov, TAM alumus and engineer at ToolCASE, LLC and Chris Klette, ToolCASE, LLC engineer.
During the event, Matt Dickey conducted a web development workshop. Assistant Professor Daniel Leithinger and PhD Student Julia Uhr gave a virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) workshop and Annie Margaret, ATLAS instructor, led the participants in meditation.
In addition, a team of ATLAS students, including graduate students Sam Herwig and Emma Petersen (both CTD-Creative Industries) and Fiona Bell, PhD student, won the humanitarian award for their project, "The Disaster Displacement Database."
The organizers would like to extend a big thank you to the event sponsors, including the ATLAS Institute, Trimble, Tortuga AgTech, SparkFun Electronics, ToolCASE, LLC, and echoAR, as well as our partner, InVision.