When brilliant minds come together to solve challenging climate issues, it’s a win. When those brilliant minds do it as part of Girls in Tech: Hack for the Environment, it’s also a whole lot of fun.
As a member of the board of directors for Girls in Tech, it was a true honor to have Team Guidewire join forces with Definity this past summer to sponsor this four-week global hackathon for women ages 18 and up. And to have industry luminaries from these companies join me as expert judges? Pure awesomeness. Especially when you consider the hackathon was designed to allow young female coders an opportunity to engage in collaborative competition, team networking, specialized mentoring, and more.
The stakes: $6,000 in prizes and the chance to leverage technology to help save the planet. Focusing on sustainability, climate change, and deforestation, the competition offered women a unique opportunity to add to their portfolio and gain exposure to a nascent but important new sector of tech. The results were nothing short of mind-blowing. But more on that in a moment. First, let’s hit rewind for the bigger picture.
Today GIT, Tomorrow the World
Girls in Tech is at the forefront of empowering women to address critical global challenges through their tech expertise. Our mission revolves around fostering equality, inclusivity, and the freedom to create meaningful, substantive solutions to complex problems.
Held July 26 through August 23, the hackathon was a way for us to extend a warm invitation to team up with others to develop technological solutions to serious climate issues. Whether it’s web development skills, design chops, product development expertise, engineering prowess, or strategic thinking capabilities, or any mix of these and more, entrants could bring their unique gifts to the fore in a supportive community focused on bridging the gender gap in the tech industry, and elevate women and their contributions to technology.
To that end, entrants were tasked to think about how they might use AI, blockchain, or other technologies to develop a concept that can demonstrably be developed into a minimum viable product (MVP) designed to solve some aspect of the following problems:
Waste: Less than 9% of all plastics are recycled globally—what are ways to increase recycling rates in the USA and worldwide?
Deforestation: How can technology be used to track and disrupt deforestation while increasing the number of trees being planted in the Amazon?
Endangered species: Rhinos in Africa, tigers in Southeast Asia, horseshoe crabs of coastal New England. With declining biodiversity, how might AI or other technologies help reverse the trend?
Climate change: What sustainable new innovation can increase the lifespan of batteries or boost the range of EVs?
More than 580 entrants organized in teams of three to five people to participate in the competition. As a woman who began her career in technology in an era when I was a rarity, it was gratifying to see so many young women get their geek on. Their projects are as inspiring as they are inventive.
Among 49 top contender projects: A mobile app designed to leverage blockchain and Lidar, SAR, and other satellite technologies to detect deforestation activities and monitor reforestation efforts; an online marketplace that connects distributors of discarded plastic with manufacturers seeking to source and purchase plastic for reuse; an app for finding convenient, solar-powered EV charging stations to reduce the use of non-renewable grid energy when charging EV batteries; and more.
You can check out the links below to learn more about this year’s prize winners, which were announced November 9. Prepare to be impressed!
And the Winners Are…
First Place: SolarSync
Second Place: GreenUp
Third Place: HomeGrown
Some Special Thanks
To close out this post, I want to give a quick shout-out to members of Team Guidewire as well as tech leaders and volunteers from Definity. You all made Girls in Tech Hack for the Environment a huge success. Thank you!
Christina Colby, Lorraine Coulson, Tatjana Lalkovic, and Bill Pearce
Team Guidewire/Hackathon Mentors
Keyuri Anand, Su Latt Phone, Meredith Marzoni, Deepika Geleda, Lisa Walsh, Mark Daniels, Carolee Dagenais, Padma Heid, Anna Malinowska, Flo Fugasin, Kate Toronto, Denise Airlie, Melissa Chawla, Amber Reiche, Sarah Kelso, Eri Chishima, and Jyothi Kudithipudi
Fabiola Marchese, Nabeel Shaw, Nitin Mathur, Harcharan Singh Pabla, Magesh Mohaasudram, Harp Ahluwalia, Ron Mills, Viviane Choi, Kuberan Kandasamy, Nan Oldroyd, and Eric Fishleigh