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Save the date! The weekend of April 24-25, 2021, UCI will host its first women-centric hackathon, VenusHacks. The virtual event is a collaboration between Women in Information and Computer Sciences (WICS) and Hack at UCI, two student-run organizations. Applications are due April 18 and are open to any student 18 or older — high school, undergraduate and graduate students identifying as women or allies are welcome to apply. You can also apply as a mentor.

“Our mission is to empower underrepresented groups by providing an inclusive community to foster growth and creativity in computing,” says VenusHacks Co-President Bhavani Panda, a computer science major in the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS). The School of ICS is one of the event sponsors, along with DisneyBalsamiq and CrowdStrike. “We are inviting participants of all experience levels as we aim to increase diversity in tech through support, exposure, and community,” says Panda. “From the amazing hackers and supportive sponsors, to the thrilling prizes — there are so many things to look forward to!”

According to Panda, 2019-20 WICS Internal Vice President Kayla Tran first suggested the event back in 2019 after a group of WICS committee members attended AthenaHacks, a women-centric hackathon hosted at USC. “AthenaHacks was very eye-opening, as we came to realize the magnitude of women in tech,” says Panda. Also, with the impressive number of UCI students in attendance (second only to USC), the WICS attendees realized the massive interest among UCI students in women-centric hackathons. “Working with our fellow club, Hack at UCI, we hope to make VenusHacks another empowering and engaging experience for the students at UCI!”

Visit the VenusHacks website or Facebook page to learn more about this event and its various workshops, speakers and activities. “After over a year of deprived human interaction due to the pandemic, I’m eagerly waiting to meet new people from across the world during the event,” says Panda. “I can’t wait to see everything come together to give everyone involved the best experience possible!”

— Shani Murray