We began the event with an overview of the upcoming week and exciting activities planned. Shortly after, we were separated into our teams and started discussion about which challenge interested us most and how we thought we could combat them. The teams were chosen to have a range of people in them so it was great to get to know so many different people.
Communication was a struggle when none of us were in the same location but we eventually managed to talk to each other through Zoom and got going with our chosen challenge — Wildfires. With a variety of members in our team, we all had distinct roles which would contribute to the production of our app. It was fun to discuss solutions as a team and use ideas from different people to make improvements. We were also provided with lots of help from many amazing mentors who specialised in areas such as design thinking, ethics and tech to aid us in building our projects.
We spent a few days brainstorming ideas in between inspiring talks by those in the tech industry and had to find a balance between the hackathon with school work. Something I really enjoyed about the talks was the emphasis on the importance of diversity in tech as this is something the industry is really struggling with at the moment. This was exemplified through experiences some of the speakers shared with us where they had experienced tough moments due to being female. This is why it was so important that we got to hear from so many empowering female speakers as it shows to our generation how we can help to shape the industry.
My favourite talk was given by Dr Fadji Maina who made headlines by completing a PhD at just 25 years old. She had beaten many odds since she was born in Niger where literacy rates are typically very low, especially for women. She also demonstrated to us that AI is used very widely, such as in her career as an earth scientist.
Whilst working on our project, we definitely got stuck into our idea and got to make something we were proud of. The hackathon was a great opportunity to get involved in AI and coding, as we were provided with a collection of resources to teach us python. The videos and detailed guides created by quantum black helps you to get started even as a beginner which was very useful considering everyone has a different coding ability. It’s great that we can continue to learn after the hackathon and keep practicing our skills to prepare us for a career in tech.
I have been planning to pursue a career in STEM for a while but this experience has definitely helped me to confirm this. I also think that many other participants will now be much more likely to go into this field as we have learnt so many useful skills such as research, team work and presentation.
I would definitely recommend taking part in an experience such as this to anyone who hasn’t tried it before as it was very fun.