Smart Watch Safety App Nets Ithaca Women a Win in Hacking Competition

By Holly Habeck, March 7, 2017

Smart Watch Safety App Nets Ithaca Women a Win in Hacking Competition

Competing against over 200 other students, a group from Ithaca College’s Women in Computing organization won “Best Hardware Hack” at the Rochester Institute of Technology's fourth annual WiC Hacks event on Feb. 25 and 26. The competition, which aims to inspire young women to explore the world of technology, challenges participants to build programs in just 24 hours.

Lauren McGrath, Lauren Suna, Tea Mdevadze and Mia Kimmich Mitchell won for Time Out, a Pebble watch app that allows women to quickly notify emergency contacts of their safety level.

“We chose to write a smart watch app because, if you were in danger, you would be able to push a couple watch buttons more easily than you could reach for your phone,” said McGrath, a senior emerging media major.

Though McGrath describes IC Women in Computing as a “small club,” she was proud to represent the college at a large competition, which over 200 women signed up for. She says the award is the third that IC Women in Computing has won at WiC Hacks in the past two years.

“The computer science department at Ithaca is really great,” said McGrath. “I think all the classes I have taken up until now prepared me with the technical and group communication skills to do well.”

Lauren Suna, a sophomore emerging media major, also noted the value of participating in IC Women in Computing.

“Even though Principles of Computer Science gave me a great foundation for programming and problem solving, it was really my experience in the Ithaca College Women in Computing organization that prepared me the most,” said Suna. “The women in that organization have truly inspired me to continue to work hard and improve my coding ability.”

She recognizes the importance of all-women hackathons in a male-dominated field, too.

“Women hackathons show that there are other women who are incredibly passionate about the tech industry,” said Suna. “Being in a competition made up of just women programmers was also inspiring, because I saw that we can be creative and create innovative products that will help people.”