Developed in collaboration between our AT&T College Recruiting team and members of our Technology Development Program (TDP), the EmpowHer Hackathon saw teams of college students compete to offer solutions to today’s technological challenges. The purpose of the event was to highlight the next generation of female STEM talent and give them a platform to showcase their skills.

“I always get so excited about the new ideas that come out of hackathons,” said Morgan Muir, a member of the TDP leadership group who helped develop the prompt and judging criteria.

The Challenge

Participants received this task:

As more network traffic moves to fiber and 5G, AT&T expects to drive significant savings by reducing the company’s legacy copper footprint. By 2025, AT&T expects that 75% of its network footprint will be served via fiber and 5G and that it will have reduced its copper services footprint by 50%.

Create an engaging digital experience for consumers that will help AT&T increase its 5G and fiber footprint.

An important aspect of development is considering how a product will impact the consumer experience. Muir explained, “I wanted to develop a challenge that would get participants to think about customer experience while also giving them room to develop fun and creative hacks.”

Andrea Araujo, part of our college recruiting team who also developed the hackathon, added, “The prompt was designed to allow for creativity. We can imagine the direction students might go with it, but they always manage to take us by surprise with their creations.”

Of the 70 students registered, the Kayjen Hacketeers from the University of New Orleans found the winning solution through blending their art experience with their program.

“Dynamic Sketch is a unique art application that allows consumers to draw solo, collaborate in real-time, access tutorials, and take advantage of less latency using AT&T’s networks,” the team told us. “We presented our solution by creating a presentation that introduces the program, analyzes the finances, and talks about how our application aligns with AT&T’s values.”

Finding the Solution

The Hacketeers came together when student Jennifer Spicer learned about the hackathon online and began reaching out to other computer science students at the university. This led to Jenny Nguyen and Shakayla Mosely joining the team. “We all wanted to join the hackathon,” the team said, “because it was an event that centered on women and all skill levels were encouraged to join.”

With the group of three assembled, the next step was finding a name. “Kayjen Hacketeers came from a combination of New Orleans, the University of New Orleans (UNO), and our names,” they say. “’Kayjen’ is our names combined and it sounds like ‘Cajun.’ ‘Hacketeers’ combines ‘hack’ with our school, ‘UNO Privateers.’”

When the team learned they had won, it was an amazing feeling. “We worked really hard to develop our website showing Dynamic Sketch and we spent a lot of time throughout the school week to prepare for the final round,” they added.

Continuing to Innovate

The EmpowHer Hackathon is a taste of the kind of work students can expect as they move into careers or if they choose to enter our Technology Development Program. “The TDP has a consistent schedule of innovation events,” Muir told us. “College students that join TDP will get several opportunities to participate in challenges like EmpowHer.”

The Kayjen Hacketeers are excited to continue developing their skills, too. “The EmpowHer Hackathon has opened the door to many resources available to us, such as the Virtual Interactive Platform that allows us to network one on one with AT&T employees,” they said.

They continued, “Innovation is creation with a purpose. Just as AT&T is continuously innovating, we as computer science students strived to make Dynamic Sketch a product that is original, creative, fun, and realistic to use in everyday life.”

“This was our first hackathon. We were able to research our case, implement our own solution, gain teamwork skills, work on time management, and present to a group of judges. We highly recommend anyone, regardless of your coding skills, to join your first hackathon!”

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