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  • Writer's pictureMadeline Kim

Hackathon Global Challenges Competition

Last week (Feb. 1-2), I participated in my first-ever hackathon-style competition. Am I a bit late to the game? Sure. It seems like everyone in this university popped out of the womb as hackathon stars and fluent in three coding languages. However, it took a bit of time for Tepper to announce their take on hackathons: the Global Challenges Competition. I study business and am passionate about climate change (I have written about the topic in The Tartan recently and participated in the March for Science in 2017), so when one of my best friends since freshman year asked if I wanted to join her team, I said yes without hesitation.

The competition started at 5 PM with the introduction led by Professor Ales. Afterwards, the teams split up and my team quickly gathered our ideas. We were already set on two themes: encouraging dietary changes (like how the U.S. government encouraged milk sales and breakfast food consumption) and reducing carbon emissions through replacing jobs from unsustainable energy to more sustainable energies (with Germany as our contemporary model). After researching the impacts of both the food industry and the energy industry, we decided to hone in on the latter.

I was fortunate enough to have a team with diverse skills. Whereas I am an avid writer and can put together writing and slides efficiently, my teammates were much more adept in the quantitative aspect.

Ultimately, we did not win the case competition. However (as cheesy as it is), these 24 hours truly did give me a memorable experience with a major lesson and moments that I will carry beyond.

As I mentioned before, I learned to work more effectively in a team. I’m the type of person who wants to do everything on her own, so I tend to work alone even if I am given the choice to work in a team. It always felt less stressful and overall easier to have full autonomy over my work. However, working with my team showed me that that isn’t necessarily the case. I already knew that Xiang (left, the friend who invited me into the team) had some computing courses under her belt and Anamika (right) is minoring in environmental and sustainability studies. I contributed my knowledge in contemporary politics and writing, and the three of us made a fantastic team and pooled together our skills.

Plus, I got to see a beautiful sunset and see my first-ever sunrise:

Will I be doing a hackathon-esque case competition in the future? Maybe. My body’s screaming “no more all nighters!” but I won’t say “no” quite yet. Even though the competition was intense, I enjoyed getting closer with my friends and learning more about contributors of climate change.


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