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Student Entrepreneurship: Women’s Internet of Things Makeathon

April 28, 2016

More than 60 female college students and media and technology professionals gathered at the West 1455209390Virginia University Reed College of Media Innovation Center the first weekend in April to work on media solutions using “smart” technology and the Internet of Things (IoT).

The Women’s IoT Makeathon is part of the Hack the Gender Gap series, which was created by the Reed College of Media in partnership with MediaShift and emphasizes the need to engage more young women in emerging media and technology. Students from WVU, Morgan State, Ohio University, Northwestern, the University of Missouri, Potomac State and Penn State participated. Leading professional women in the media and technology sectors acted as mentors and judges in the competition.

“All of the women here [were] just so supportive this entire weekend,” said Trista Thurston of Ohio University, who was on the winning team. “This entire atmosphere, this entire space allowed for so much more than just the actual challenge, which I was really appreciative for.”

During the event, students worked in teams of eight to design a solution or product using elements of IoT that would help answer a problem faced in the journalism and media industry. The women also learned more about do-it-yourself electronics through hands-on activities with sensors, Arduinos and a 3D printer.

The winning team created a personal finance tool called CARDful, a card placed in the wallet and paired with a mobile app that helps users understand and track their spending habits. The object of the card is to help consumers “stay out of the red,” and the mobile app would connect the user with business and finance content from partner media organizations. Millennials who are on their own for the first time are the intended audience for the product.

A photo gallery of the event is available on the WVU Media Innovation Center Facebook page.

Thanks to Amy L. Kovac-Ashley for info about the Makeathon.