This Drexel freshman organized Philly's first all-women student hackathon: FemmeHacks - Technical.ly Philly

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Mar. 27, 2015 11:30 am

This Drexel freshman organized Philly’s first all-women student hackathon: FemmeHacks

The winning project was a natural language processing app that could analyze a piece of writing, like a cover letter, to determine the writer's personality traits.

FemmeHacks was held late last month at Drexel's ExCITe Center.

(Courtesy photo)

Andrea Baric grew up in an environment that empowered women to go into STEM.

The Havertown native went to an all-girls high school, where the robotics team made her feel like she could explore tech freely. She went to events hosted by Penn’s Society of Women Engineers. So it wasn’t hard to choose software engineering as her major when she entered Drexel last fall. She also knew she wanted to create spaces like the ones she knew growing up, where women could work together on technology projects and get inspired to build stuff that could help people.

That’s why she organized FemmeHacks, the city’s first all-women hackathon for students. Held late last month at Drexel’s ExCITe Center, roughly 30 students attended from Drexel, Penn and Temple.

It was Baric’s third hackathon, all done in her first year of college: HackPrinceton and PennApps were her first two.

(Courtesy photo)

The FemmeHacks crew. Organizer Andrea Baric is in the front row, second from right. (Courtesy photo)

Here’s a list of the winners, as provided by Baric:

1st place (Prize: 4 Pebble smartwatches and subscriptions to GitHub & TreeHouse)

  • Penn’s Sally Kong, Rachel Han and Isabel Ren for AnOwlysis, a natural language processing app using IBM Watson’s API that took any sample of writing, like a cover letter or resume, and analyzed a person’s main traits. Judges thought that it was immediately “shippable” and had a very unique API choice.

2nd place (Prize: 4 FitBits & subscriptions)

  • Drexel’s Anna Lu, Karishma Changlani, Maissoun Ksara and Neha Thomas for SWEApp2015, an application aimed to help Drexel’s Society of Women Engineers organize its schedule and tasks. Judges thought the level of technical difficulty of the app was quite impressive within the time frame.

3rd place (Prize: Sony headphones & subscriptions)

  • Penn’s Kate Miller, Bethany Davis, SoYoung Park and Sierra Yit of Campus Couture for an app that targeted collegiate women for trading dresses on campuses. Judges thought the app was quite far in its development stage (lots of features), and appreciated its catering towards the “all women” theme.

Other projects ranged from an online women mentorship website to a Tinder-like app for dogs.

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The hackathon also included a panel of women in tech including City of Philadelphia data services manager Stacey Mosley , Drexel professor Gabriela Marcu, Comcast developer Christina Kirby and Thomson Reuters software engineer Yen Duong.

How’d Baric feel about the hackathon, which she called her “most ambitious project yet”? She wrote to us in an email:

I am incredibly proud to have hosted an event that offered students the space and mentors needed to experiment with and execute project ideas. I was thrilled to hear from participants who wanted to know if we would do it again this spring, or who were inspired by the FemmeHacks community to keep pursuing CS, or who planned on volunteering at their own hackathons like PennApps after the fact.

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