Women's Machine Learning Hackathon.

Muriel Grobler
30 July 2018

"You should come with me." Anna said after telling me about the hackathon. I was skeptical. Couldn't really imagine myself at a hackathon drinking redbull late into the night while coding. Anna has an amazing mathematical mind and I enjoy working with her, so I didn't want to just say no. "The event is specifically for women", she said. Hmmm... I was still skeptical, but decided to give it a shot. "Okay" i said, "on the condition that we build something using NLP". With that it was settled.

Arriving at said hackathon, I was pleasantly surprised by the people who showed up. These were all just smart people wanting to learn something new and do something great! Expero went out of their way to make us feel welcome. Friday morning started with an introduction to machine learning. Graham created an amazing two hour workshop - one of the best I've seen. We sat next to Sarah, which turned out to be awesome luck as she is an amazing full-stack developer.

Saturday we formed teams and quickly settled into working on our ML projects. The atmosphere was encouraging yet serious. This wasn't a charity event for women, it was about creating an environment in which smart women could flourish. And flourish we did! The level of creativity in the solutions teams came up with was amazing. From helping the fire department react to the most important issues during a disaster to discovering trends in online shopping experiences, there was never a dull moment.

Our team built an app which helps the user figure out what's for dinner today. It uses NLP to find "chickenish" recipes when a user searches for "chicken". If you're interested in such things, you can find our code here . We were surprised to learn that our project won! Apparently figuring out whatsfordinner.today is a problem for many of us. We've decided to continue with the project, feel free to check it out in the near future to see how we're doing!

Ps, many thanks to Ashley for making sure everything runs smoothly, Jaya and Randy from Women in Data Science for helping out and Domino for sponsoring. I'm converted - you guys have an awesome prduct!