• First Time At A Hackathon Doesn’t Sound So Sexy, Right?

  • 11th September 2018

  • Have you ever participated in a 48-HOUR-Hackathon as a newbie programmer and a female? I think not.

    Learning how to code for the first time in January, if anyone had told me I would be participating with  a team in a 48-hour hackathon with programmers who have more experienced than I , I would have called the person a liar. Hackathons are meant for really smart people who can come up with really brilliant ideas.

    So you might be wondering what was running through my mind when I made the decision to participate. Let’s skip this to the main event. This year’s Hackathon was dubbed “Building 4th Industrial Cities. Are we ready?” and it took place at the KNUST College of Science. The various teams present were required to build solutions that will reflect their preparation towards Tech evolution. We were required to integrate technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Virtual Reality among others. The Hackathon was a very intensive one for which panel discussions and workshops were held on various topics.

    Most of the panel discussions steered towards how prepared Ghana was in relation to the evolution taking place around us and if Africa should continue to engage in importing Western solutions to their problems. Over 300 participants participated in the event and every team came up with incredible ideas.

    Each team was paired up with a coach and the main aim of this was to enrich and validate their products at the end of the hackathon. A number of ideas were pitched and some included:

    • A crowdfunding platform for handicapped individuals seeking for funds to pay their medical bills.
    • A platform that checks for irregularities in voting using Blockchain.
    • An app that detects the presence of cataracts in a person’s eye using Machine Learning Models(This was done by my team and I. Surprising, right?).

    Anyways, this is how I felt after the experience:

    I was surprised that I was able to utilize Machine Learning (ML) API’s in the application my team and I built.

    Typically, I have never trained a ML API before and applied it in a web application . I have seen people use it and I have always been fascinated at the incredible things it can do.

    Having a spotlight on you because you are all female team meant there were even more expectations. 

    I normally do not mind talking in front of an audience, but it’s a little difficult when your team is an all female one and to some extent, newbies. It can be overwhelming.

    All things considered, participating at the hackathon was a great experience . Being awake for 48 hours without sleep makes you very resilient and it’s incredible the brilliant ideas you can come up with under such conditions.

    If you’re a new programmer  like myself or not and would love to take programming a long way, I encourage you to participate in hackathons especially those organized by the Hacklab Foundation. You could start with those organized for a few hours to those that spans across two days or more.

    If you feel strongly about building solutions  to better the lives of people, I think hackathons are a great way to begin.

    For me, this hackathon increased my love for programming . I loved working with a team to bring up incredible solutions and coding them within a few hours.  We might not have completed the project, but we were rewarded by the positive reviews we had from the judges!

    ~ Abigail Edwin

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