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CONA Team Members Helping Inspire Future Women in Technology

Saurabh Parikh, Umar Raja, and Kelly Linz had the opportunity to judge a metro-Atlanta girls-only hackathon sponsored by Metrohacks. Metrohacks Women is MetroHack’s third 12 hour hackathon at the Microsoft Offices in Alphareta, GA devoted to bringing more female high school students into STEM fields. The event, on September 21, hosted approximately 90 female participantsaged 13-18, most of whom arrived at 8:30 am and spent the following 10 hours learning and designing solutions.

Technical workshops ranging from website building to cloud computing were offered to the hackers early in the day, as potential tools to use when designing the solutions. Using previous knowledge, and the skills acquired in the workshop(s) the students chose to form teams or compete individually; their task was to build a solution specific to one of three topics: Environmental, Health, or Social.

The hackers chose to tackle difficult, complex issues, including poverty, carbon emission, and food allergen recognition. After 6+ hours of hacking, teams were given 3 minutes to present their solution to a panel of judges; prizes were awarded to the top 3 teams under each topic, in addition to awarding a grand prize winner.

The winning presentation was a prototype for a mobile app which provided the ability for a user to identify food allergens without reading a label. In order to use the app a person would first input all of his/her food allergies in a profile, then anytime the user wanted to check a food label for potential allergens they would simply take a picture of the label using the app. Based upon the user profile and the ingredient label photo, the app would trigger and alert to warn of allergens or indicate the food was allergen free.

Though the winning solution was exceptional, each participant displayed an interest in explaining an issue and used creativity and technology to design a solution.

I was impressed at the level of engagement and passion demonstrated by the hackers at the event.  When the event concluded, I left the event feeling optimistic about the future of data science and analytics and inspired to continue to find innovative solutions within CONA.” – Kelly Linz

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