The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Diversity Hackathon 2020 to be hosted this weekend

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Photo by FILE

Texas A&M’s hackathon provides an environment for students to come together and work on creative, technical projects.

This year’s Diversity Hackathon will offer an inclusive space for participants to discuss innovative ideas to tackle diversity issues Texas A&M’s campus faces today.
The College of Architecture’s Diversity Council will host the sixth Diversity Hackathon this weekend from Friday, Feb. 28 at 5 p.m. to Saturday, Feb. 29 at 5 p.m. in the Langford Architecture Center. The event will begin with challengers from administrative offices around campus and student organizations posing challenges to student participants. The kickoff will be followed by a dinner, during which students can interact with their challengers to learn more about their expectations. Participants will finalize their teams and challenge choices by 8 p.m., and will have until 2 p.m. the next day to propose a solution.
Mingqian Liu, graduate teaching consultant for the Diversity Council and Ph.D. student in the College of Architecture, said a member of the college’s Council for Diversity, Bara Safarova, originally presented the idea for a hackathon to the Dean in 2014. Liu said during the first two hackathons, most of the participants were from the Colleges of Engineering and Architecture, but over the years it has transformed into an interdisciplinary event.
“We are similar to, but also different from, the traditional hackathon,” Liu said. “A traditional hackathon would present a tech-centered prompt. With our hackathon, our goal is to solve some diversity and inclusion problems on campus.”
Liu said challengers at this year’s event will once again include the Office of Sustainability, the University Libraries and the Matthew Gaines Initiative, in addition to the 12th Can, the Persian Student Association and the Latinx Graduate Student Association. The challengers will judge each project at the end of the 24 hour event to decide which team has proposed the most practical solution. This year, Liu said the School of Innovation is sponsoring the Hackathon and is offering to fund follow-up projects and research for the overall winning team.
Liu said there is an award given for the most interdisciplinary team. Jesse Miller, a visualization sophomore who participated in last year’s Hackathon, said his team was made up of students across several departments, including computer science, chemistry and business.
“It is such an informal event that it really encourages people from all different majors and all different minority groups to participate in bettering campus as a whole,” Miller said. “There are definitely rules and challenges set by different student organizations across campus, but it is so open to new ideas and new skill sets throughout different majors that it really encourages people who definitely wouldn’t interact with each other on a day-to-day basis to interact as part of a team and work together to come up with something entirely new.”
Miller said his team won several awards at last year’s Hackathon for a Diversity Garden challenge which envisioned a specific space to represent the presence of minority groups on campus.
The Hackathon is an opportunity to work with a diverse group of people, as well as to practically utilize skills learned in the classroom, said Wilinia Hamilton, architecture senior and a previous participant of Diversity Hackathon.
“It’s a really good simulation of what the workplace is like in real life because it really gives you a chance to understand how each major incorporates into the project,” Hamilton said. “I remember last year my group was all computer science majors, and then I was the only architecture major. It gave me a chance to be a leader since I was the only one who knew about urban planning and landscape.”
All students are welcome to sign up regardless of major and are free to form their own teams of four to 10 participants. There are no restrictions on how students can research and present their ideas for their challenges, Liu said. Students are able to stay in Langford throughout the 24-hour period, and food and drinks will be offered. However, she said participants are able to leave throughout the time if they would like to utilize other resources on campus to complete their projects.
For more information and to sign up to participate in Diversity Hackathon 2020, visit the Diversity Council’s Facebook page.

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