TechTogether Miami: A Woman-Led Hackathon Directed by FIU Panther

Four diverse women, smiling and surrounding a wooden table with a laptop. Courtesy of RF Studios, published by Pexels.

By Danielle Haller // Staff Writer

What is a Hackathon? There is a common misconception that “hack” is a bad word.

We are taught that hacking comes in the form of spam calls, phishing, emails, jailbroken iPhones and cyber insecurity. 

When the word hacking is used it means hacking a project or hacking your brain to code as much as you can over the weekend of a hackathon. 

What this term actually means is making apps and building useful websites. 

Hacking is a time for getting together with friends and drinking red bull. It’s when brilliant minds combine science, math and passion for creativity.

TechTogether holds the largest gender-focused hackathon events as a national nonprofit originating in Boston.

Their mission is to increase the representation of women and marginalized genders through annual gender-focused hackathons hosted across the country.

“TechTogether, the nation’s largest initiative to address the gender inequities in the hackathon community, supports over 10,000 hackers. TechTogether is credited in part with increasing the representation of women and non-binary people in the hackathon community by 18% to 39% from 2019 to 2020,” said their website.

People marginalize genders and expect those in tech to be mostly men.  

“TechTogether serves people of marginalized genders, this includes transgender women, cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals, and all gender identities which have been systematically oppressed by those in power throughout history,” stated on their website.

Hackathons are a great community to be part of where you can even land a job through sponsors who like your skills.

One FIU Panther, Danay (Dan-eye) Fernandez, who is on a fast track to getting her master’s degree in computer science, noticed one day that she was one of the only women in her upper-level classes.

This realization motivated her to become the director of TechTogether Miami to give back to the community that helped her grow into her passion for tech.

TechTogether Miami Hackathon will be a 24-48 hour event, launching on Feb. 11-13, 2022, and will take place virtually. 

TechTogether is open for beginners to advanced individuals.

This event is open to any Florida students aged 14+ within high schools, colleges, tech boot camps where students are learning coding in 16 weeks, or students outside of Florida and internationally.

Attendees can get together on weekends, play raffles, join the furry friend’s pet chat (really important), attend workshops and try pre-hacks for high school.

Hackathons usually occur over the weekend starting on Friday nights with beginners and as the weekend goes on the hacks get more advanced.

At the hackathon, students can make an app to solve climate change, create hardware hacks, show off their skills or refine them, and they can even be a beginner with zero experience! 

TechTogether Miami will be a cohort of 12-16 people, many of whom are organizers at FIU.  

They will split into four teams which consist of programming, marketing, technical, and sponsorship/partnership. 

There are three roles: Beginners who are there to learn, mentors who help build projects, and workshop hosts who hold workshops in various categories from beginner to advanced.

There will be coding boot camps to achieve certifications for cyber security and vouchers for further training. 

Contestants can win prizes within different categories based on a judge’s vote.

It’s all free and it’s all for fun and learning. 

Everyone needs a community, whether in school or outside of school and FIU helps us find them. 

How can somebody with an interest get started? Do the research and take time to make sure this is what they want to do. 

Understand that trial and error are normal in the beginning.

Use the resources FIU has to offer like LinkedIn Learning, which has many tutorials on computer science, and join a hackathon once you’re ready!