An all-female team of mostly LMU students placed second overall and first in the CodePen’s “Best Front-End Design” category on Jan. 20, 2019, at the first-ever Rose Hack, a 24-hour-long hackathon with a women-centric focus, hosted by UC Riverside.
The team developed a web application called Classpath, which functions as a navigation tool by mapping LMU’s campus on a graph and by creating paths between buildings.
“Essentially, we created a web application that is designed to map out an optimal path for your class schedule on the LMU campus,” said Kaitlyn Behrens, an animation major in the LMU School of Film and Television. “The idea is that we know more about the school’s layout than a service like Google Maps would. So, the app relies on student knowledge of shortcuts, such as walking through alleys, through buildings or across fields.”
A hackathon such as Rose Hack is a weekend-long event where teams of aspiring programmers plan and present projects to colleagues and mentors to foster students’ interest in related STEM fields. Rose Hack featured 27 teams that created a wide variety of projects, such as a version of Pac-Man in virtual reality built with the Unity game engine or a web application that connects college students with people in their communities willing to cook and sell home-cooked meals.
The team was made up of Behrens; two LMU Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering students, computer science major Maddie Louis and electrical engineering major Megan West; and UCSD computer science and math major Shauna Sapper.
“I contributed to the front-end design of the project and had no idea how useful art can be to computer science,” recounted Behrens, “so, it was really cool for me to see how hand-drawn graphics can be used in web design.”
Women-centric hackathons, Louis argues, have enormously helped women enter traditionally male-dominated career paths in science and technology by encouraging women to collaborate on projects they can be proud of in a positive environment
“I think events like Rose Hack can have a positive influence on young women since it shows them what women are capable of,” said Louis, a student in the LMU Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering. “And it can provide women with role models in their field of interest.”