In a world full of darkness, it can sometimes be hard to look on the bright side.  On August 13th and 14th the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program (MNAiC) offered a Bright Ideas Virtual Hackathon. MNAiC participants gathered with mentors and they had the greatest time coming up with ideas to positively change the world. 

The participants were smart and passionate and came up with truly bright ideas such as creating an app idea called BetterU. Even in a virtual setting, the high school and college age womxn were able to come up with amazing ideas with their mentors to solve real-world problems, work through the engineering process, and add their personal flair.

During the last part of the event, the teams pitched their ideas in front of judges who offered a critique, some encouragement, and their advice.  Participants came to understand that you can have the greatest idea in the world, but if you can not effectively pitch your idea, and persuade your audience, then it will not go anywhere. 

The theme of this year's MNAiC program is Light the World. Our next generation of womxn leaders are incredible. See for yourself by clicking on this link to view their inspiring presentations and you'll conclude that our future is brighter than ever.   

Thank you so much to our mentors: Michael Burke, Adam Hanback, Elizabeth Dao, Sharmin Tamanna, Mackenzie Flickinger, Sam Wheeler, Delight Mulligan, Andrea Lopez, and Renae Torborg.  We appreciate your commitment to help develop the next generation of brilliant thinkers....and doers.  

We're also grateful for event speakers, Jade Denson, Caroline Karanja, Angi Lackens, Emily Helzer, and Lisa Neary. They provided inspiring and practical ways to brainstorm, create wireframes, and give presentations.

Thank you to to our judges, Mary Ball and Amanda Carlson, who provided incredible and practical feedback!

Thank you to the amazing planning committee Beth McMillan, Julie Urban, Katie Hendricksen, Virginia de la Riva, and Russell Fraenkel.   The event was your bright idea and its success in large part, due to your active involvement. 

Finally, we thank the following event partners for allowing and encouraging their employees to empower the next generation of womxn technology leaders: Bethel University, Cultivation, Hack the Gap, Land O'Lakes, Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence, Minnesota Twins, Seagate, Service Now, Target, and Veritas Technologies.

We're delighted that on October 28 Securian Financial teams up with MNAiC and SPARCS to offer our next exciting virtual event.  To learn more/register: visit Becoming an Imagineer

We're also in the process of determining other technology learning topics and partners for the school year.  To suggest your bright idea, please email me at katie@hendricksen.org.

About the Author:  Katie Hendricksen attends Bethel University and is majoring in Computer Science. She is currently a software engineering intern at Target, and previously was a software engineering intern at OneOme, a health care startup.  She was also a recipient of Target’s TWIST Epic Award. Currently, she is a volunteer for MN Tech Association, SPARCS, and mentors a FIRST robotics team. She loves volunteering and running technology outreach events, especially focused on giving more girls STEM opportunities. 

About SPARCS:  The MNAiC year-round program is about Sustaining, Passion, Ambition, and Resolve for Career Success.  The program exposes high school aged womxn to a variety of technology learning topics and to a network of IT career professionals who are passionate about their technology work and interests.