WMN; — My experience at India’s largest women-only hackathon!

Last month on 1st and 2nd June, I along with my friend Lekhika Dugtal attended India’s largest women-only hackathon — wmn; organized by Devfolio in Bangalore. This was the best hackathon I had ever attended.

WMN; — My experience at India’s largest women-only hackathon!

Last month on 1st and 2nd June, I along with my friend Lekhika Dugtal attended India’s largest women-only hackathon — wmn; organized by Devfolio in Bangalore. This was the best hackathon I had ever attended. I was surrounded by hundreds of female hackers, brilliant working women, and passionate developers. This time it was not just a hackathon for me, but it was like a dream that came true, which I had been eagerly waiting for since the past few years. I had always wished to become an empowering and inspirational woman a few years from now, for others starting on their code journey, and this event gave me confidence that I can make it happen. The event gave me the chance to meet so many passionate and dedicated women who are making a real difference to the world.

Their website had me sold at first sight! 😍

This was also the first time I was in Bangalore. I knew that Bangalore is the IT capital of India and the Silicon Valley of India with a large number of tech companies. Once I landed, I could feel the energy in the air. Millions of people have made their success stories in Bangalore, and as a software developer, it could be the start of mine. This made me recall an inspirational quote by the great Dr. Kalam.
“You have to dream before your dreams can come true.”

The women of wmn;

What motivated me to attend wmn :

I read that the organizers of wmn; mentioned Only 20% of students in any engineering institution are women, and also only 20% of attendees are women in any hackathon and conference. If women get the right opportunities, they will inevitably surge past all the stereotypes.

She is definitely ready to hack!

Wmn; is an initiative towards breaking the glass ceiling and creating a balanced gender ratio in the tech industry.

I liked the concept and decided to go for it. There has been an unfair difference in terms of access to opportunities between men and women throughout history with over-representation of the achievements of a single-gender. And the reason behind this is that women have not been given equal opportunities which are, of course, part of their fundamental rights. For this reason, I’d like to thank wmn; and Devfolio for this initiative.

Our Hack: code capsule:

The hackathon started at sharp 5 PM on the 1st of June with 24 hours to hack and build our project. My teammate Lekhika and I spent the first few hours in planning, visualizing and shaping our ideas for the project. When we started, we had many ideas we considered implementing, but we had to narrow down our vision to complete the hack in these limited hours, and so we restricted ourselves to only the core features. Finally, we decided to solve our everyday problems through our hack.

We thought of the process in which competitive programmers first write their code on paper for better visualization of a problem, and then type the program on their laptops to compile and execute it. Did you get the pain point? Programmers are spending 2x the time for writing a program, first on paper and then on their laptops (To be honest, I too have the same habit)! So, we decided to build a tool that will let you compile and execute your hand-written code directly!

Desktop Interface of our hack: photo is uploaded directly for code recognition.

We implemented this concept for three languages C, C++, and Python. In addition, we also tried implementing the conversion of a program from one language to another (for example, converting a C++ code into Python). A huge thanks to the mentors who kept visiting us frequently and provided valuable feedback regarding our hack. A special shoutout to the mentors from Setu for helping out.😊

The Mobile Version

Throughout the event, I had feelings of excitement of building something cool mixed with nervousness about finishing the project in time. Mid-way through the hackathon, I felt utterly drained physically and mentally, but motivation from the mentors, judges, and organizers kept me going.

Glimpses of wmn;

Lekhika and I both took some breaks in between (it’s essential to keep the energy going) and went for little naps. We grabbed some food with coffee to go along and went around to meet the amazing participants who had come down from all around the country, much like us. We talked about our hack and checked out what they had built as well.

Before we knew it, it was time to submit our hack for judging. Now all our hard work and effort was going to be compressed into a 5-minute presentation before the judges. At this point, our goal was to explain our hack as well as we could and make a lasting impression on the judging panel. We explained how our hack could let you convert your chalk-board code into real code, and how it has a broad future scope ranging from personal use at home to institutional use by evaluators.

Feeling nervous, tired and sure that we hadn’t made it to the final round, we were beyond thrilled to know we were shortlisted to be a part of the top six teams presenting their hack on stage at the closing ceremony. It was around 7 PM of 2nd June, the Sun was setting with the event in its last phase, and we were preparing for our final presentation. After an intense 5-minute session on stage where we showcased our hack along with a live demo of our work in action.

It was time for the final round of judging. The entire journey and efforts in building the hack seemed worth it when we were selected for the 2nd prize! Hurrah!

Receiving the prize: the moment of pride

Some memorable moments:

Tech talks and workshops were held on the first day before the hackathon started. The talks were delivered by a bunch of brilliant women leaders and to put it simply, were awesome. A talk that inspired me the most was about product management by Taruna Manchanda from Swiggy. I remember how she explained that one should not get emotionally attached to one’s product. You, as a product developer, should always be prepared for situations in which if your product does not meet the customer’s requirements, you have to bring about changes to your product instead of being upset about it.

Taruna Manchanda speaking about lesser known Product Management Skills

I had a great time at wmn; and would definitely recommend girls who are considering visiting the next edition to go for it! It’s a great chance to be surrounded by a sea of talented female hackers from all over the country, get the first-hand experience of team-work and build connections with the best in the technology industry.

IIITA meets at wmn : great to meet people of my own college at wmn;

In a hackathon, everyone who builds a hack is a winner and prizes are just good to have by-products. The women hackers at wmn; were from different experience levels in development and programming. Some were only beginners, and some were experts, but everyone walked away with a great learning experience that they’ll remember for a lifetime!

Schwag and Prizes for days!

The free goodies, good food, new friends, meeting with people of different organizations, learning and lots of fun made the experience even more memorable.

Girls, do keep an eye out for the next edition of wmn; and other hackathons on Devfolio! You’ll probably catch me at one of them.😊

Happy Hacking!

Many more of these to collect!

Guest post by Anshu Yadav - a final year undergrad student at IIITA who has a healthy obsession with building stuff.

Originally published at https://medium.com/devfolio on July 25, 2019