DV Hacks III: A 36-Hour, Student-Led Virtual Hackathon Majoring in Awesome
For the third year in a row, I had the honor of leading Team Guidewire in hosting DV Hacks, a highly-collaborative, 36-hour hackathon designed to help high school students get excited about coding, learn teamwork, and become interested in a career in technology.
The stakes: $7,000 in prizes. The hitch: Adjust your facemask and think about what that might be. That's right, the pandemic forced this year's participants to adjust on the fly and do it all virtually. The final result was … amazing. But I'll get to that in a moment. First, let's hit rewind for the bigger picture.
Back to the Future
DV Hacks is an all-inclusive, student-run organization that helps high schoolers throughout the Bay Area form new connections, embrace their creativity, and develop an interest in coding. It's a great way to de-mystify the tech industry and demonstrate its diversity and culture of innovation. Anyone who qualifies as a student can participate, including middle school, high school, and college students.
Guidewire first got involved when two female high school students from Duarte Valley (the DV in DV Hacks) High School students reached out to me after watching my TEDX Talk. They were impressed by Guidewire's dedication to innovation and its commitment to encouraging Millennials to enter the tech industry. Based on our credentials, the group invited us to participate in their hackathon, which is supported by Major League Hacking, the official student hackathon league supporting 200 weekend-long competitions for 65,000 students worldwide.
The DV Hackathon is an annual event designed to push participants to make interesting, complex, and imaginative projects come to life. It's all free-form—with an emphasis on projects with a positive impact on the community. And despite, well, everything, this year's event, held March 19-21, was the biggest yet. Participation increased to more than 200 kids, and ended with a photo-finish, split-decision.
Team Guidewire and others participated as judges, mentors, and workshop leaders, leveraging Discord to connect with participants. For the kids, the teamwork and the chance to win cool prizes are a rush. And for me personally, it's fantastic to see young women get their geek on.
Keep Calm and Hack On
DV Hacks III Opening Ceremony, 2021
I helped kick off this year's event in the Opening Ceremony video, above. It'll give you good sense of what the hackathon is all about, and the drive and teamwork they require of students. Then there were this year's student projects, which were as inventive as they were inspiring.
Projects included a 2D alternative to Zoom replacement that creates a more realistic video conferencing experience; a sobriety-testing app to ensure a night out isn't your last; and a computer vision-based solution to help the visually impaired move more freely through the world around them. You can check out the links below to learn more about this year's prize winners—and be prepared to be impressed.
And the Winners Are:
1st Place: Integreet
2nd Place: Untoxicated
3rd Place: PetCare
Best Mobile: InSpeech
Best Web: PicassoGAN
Best Hardware: Orpheus-based Password Manager
Social Good: A-EYE For The Blind
Best Beginner (Tie): OpenInder
Best Beginner (Tie): Authentic Asia
Regarding that split decision: Our judges chose two winners for Best Beginner projects, because as you'll see after reviewing their projects above, they're both outstanding. In addition to the prize winners, you can dive deeper into this year's event, including the opening and closing ceremonies, and some of the inspiring workshops that fired up our participants' imaginations to magnificent effect. Congratulations to all of our winners, and we can't wait to host DV Hacks IV in 2022!
Special Thanks to My Guidewire Peeps
To close out this post, I want to give a shout out to members of Team Guidewire who volunteered their time to make DV Hacks III a success. Thanks to you all!
1. Roberto Carlos Riesgo
2. Tom Lee
3. Viswa Remella
4. Olivia Koentjoro
5. Galina Ivanov
6. Kevin Kraft
7. Vighnesh Venkatakrishnan
8. Dinakar Makam
9. Inderjit Singh
10. Roz Sermons
11. Mark Daniels
12. Chris Catchings
13. Zachary Fine