Following hard on the heels of the announcement of initiatives in Europe to encourage women to take a more active and more visible role in scientific computing, RENCI the Renaissance Computing Institute at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill, USA, is sponsoring this year's Pearl Hacks, a two-day event conducted by UNC students to encourage college and high-school age women to develop their interest in technology, by participating in a weekend software engineering hackathon.
Pearl Hacks is open to young women from across the US and includes a keynote speaker, technical workshops, and a hands-on hackathon, during which participants divide into teams and apply what they've learned to develop a software product. They will work on these projects with mentors from software engineering companies.
In the context, the organisers are keen to stress, ‘hacking’ does not mean breaking into anything. Rather, the idea is to encourage the participants to break their ideas out of pre-conceived boundaries and learn how to make them a reality. The event takes place in what is the bicentenary of the birth of Ada Lovelace, widely regarded as having devised the first computable algorithm and thus as the world’s first computer programmer.
Pearl Hacks will start out with a variety of technical workshops suited for all skill levels and then encourage individuals to work with other participants to build something using what they learn.
RENCI was launched in 2004 as a collaborative effort of UNC, Duke University, and North Carolina State University.