<ROCGirlHacks> Powered by AT&T Coming to RIT

Girls as young as eight years old will bring their laptops, imagination, and teamwork to the first all-girl youth hackathon in the greater Rochester region – known as <ROCGirlHacks> Powered by AT&T. AT&T is a Rochester Chamber Partner member. The hackathon will take place October 28 at RIT in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences. The hackathon is a collaboration between iCanCode, Women in Computing at RIT and AT&T, and was born out of a desire to expand coding opportunities for Rochester-area girls and to encourage them to enter the field of technology, specifically coding, an industry that is alarmingly male-dominant. Coding and computer science related skills are quickly becoming one of the most desired job skills to possess in today’s global economy. Programs like the <ROCGirlHacks> Powered by AT&T will continue to introduce youth to future career opportunities that are available in the fields of information technology and coding.

<ROCGirlHacks> Powered by AT&T will be run in a similar fashion to other hackathons held locally – in which computer programmers and others professionals in software and hardware development collaborate intensively on projects to solve challenges with technology. This time around, the event will be geared towards a younger crowd and focus on different types of issues within the digital world.  The young female participants will build apps, games, websites, animations and interactive stories related to cyberbullying and internet safety, while being judged on their teamwork, code skills and design skills. The hackathon will feature mentors from Women in Computing at RIT, tech companies and local developers assisting the participants. The event is free to participate in, but is limited to 80 female students, who must fill out an application and possess basic criteria coding skills to take part. Parents may register their children at www.icancodeclub.com/events.

“We want to make sure local kids are prepared for the future. So many of our youth, including girls, have the potential for high achievement in computer science, but have not had the opportunity to develop skills in computer science. We want to find them, introduce them to other coding enthusiasts, help them develop their minds and skills, and show parents and educators how to cultivate young talent in this area,” said Farah Sammour, founder, iCanCode. “I thank AT&T and Women in Computing at RIT for partnering with iCanCode to provide this innovative opportunity for the girls of this community. It demonstrates their commitment to advancing STEM and coding education opportunities in the region.”

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with Women in Computing at RIT and iCanCode to develop and support this innovative experience for local girls as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout the Rochester region and builds upon our vigorous efforts to bridge the gender gap in the technology industry,” said Marissa Shorenstein, president, AT&T Northeast Region. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace – requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy – and computer science programs like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today, despite gender, are equipped to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow I am excited to see the creativity and innovation from the young minds that participate in this unique hackathon.”

“Exposing girls to computing at a young age is important because they need to know it’s a career option,” said Lana Verschage, Director of Women in Computing, RIT. “Women in Computing has an Outreach Committee that is dedicated to creating opportunities for young women to learn about computing before high school in a fun and engaging environment.  It’s a win, win situation when student leaders in Women in Computing interact with young girls as role models to help encourage them to see computing as a field they can succeed in.”

Final projects at <ROCGirlHacks> Powered by AT&T will be judged by a panel of judges made up of local tech experts, community leaders, education experts and elected officials. Each submission will be scored on its potential impact on the category entered, the quality of execution, and creativity or novelty within the work.  The hackathon will challenge participants to come up with technological solutions and tools to address the growing problem of cyberbullying and internet safety, while awarding for best design skills, code skills and teamwork.

Coding is quickly becoming the new literacy, with technology powering every electronic device kids and adults interact with. The appetite among students for coding is growing in popularity as the discipline is a main driver of innovation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, much of the growth in the demotic and global economy will come from STEM related jobs – a highly lucrative and competitive field. While jobs overall are expected to grow by 10 percent in 2018, STEM jobs are predicted to grow by 17 percent, and it is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs in the US. More than half of this growth will be made up of computer careers, underscoring the importance of providing youth the tools and skills necessary to compete in this innovation economy. The urgency for more STEM and computer science educated employees is accentuated by the low percentage of females who are currently employed at major technology firms (29 percent) and women pursuing bachelors’ degrees for computer science, just 18 percent.  Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those in non-STEM occupations and experience a smaller wage gap relative to men, and increasing opportunities for women in these fields is an important step towards realizing greater economic success and equality for women across the board. <ROCGirlHacks> Powered by AT&T will help to create a future of smart, innovative female applicants to help fill the job of the future.

AT&T’s support for the region’s first all-girl youth hackathon is part of the company’s legacy of supporting educational programs focused on STEM disciplines in New York State through AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature $400 million philanthropic initiative that drives innovation in education by bringing diverse resources to bear on the issue including funding, technology, employee volunteerism and mentoring. Aspire is one of the nation’s largest corporate commitments focused on school success and workforce readiness by creating new learning environments and educational delivery systems to help students succeed and prepare them to take on 21st century careers. AT&T has given more than $103 million to support STEM initiatives since 1987. Projects supported by AT&T contributions range from after-school programs and camps for students at risk of dropping out to hands-on technology labs and elite robotics competitions.

Interested persons can also follow the challenge on Twitter using the hashtag #ROCGirlHacks.