Hackathon Wins for women in Tech at APU


A sustainable and inclusive tech industry requires active participation from those who are well-trained and knowledgeable in this profession, including women. However, women remain under-represented in STEM careers. Globally, women make up 31% of research and development positions in science, with the lowest proportions in Southwest Asia (24%) and East Asia and the Pacific (27%). 

To create an environment where women realise their full potential and feel supported, empowered, and inspired to push boundaries, the Code; Without Barriers Hackathon 2023 – a programme to foster diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, sponsored by Microsoft –was organised and concluded on June 8, 2023.

In this remarkable event organised by iTrain Asia Pte. Ltd. (Singapore) and supported by Girls in Tech, Inc., two female students from Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) showcased their exceptional skills and dedication to their craft in addressing different problem statements and were ultimately selected as winners, demonstrating their strength in contributing to and thriving in the tech ecosystem.  

Being aspiring women in tech, both Sangeeta Yadav (left) and Devina Wiyani realise their full potential and feel supported, empowered, and inspired to push boundaries at APU.

Sangeeta Yadav, a Master's student in Data Science & Business Analytics, and Devina Wiyani, a final-year student studying BSc (Hons) in Computer Science with a specialisation in Data Analytics at APU, were announced as the hackathon winners among 770 female participants from 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. 

Out of 72 impressive submissions addressing various problem statements, Sangeeta and Devina not only stood out among the rest but emerged as the sole winners for the respective problem statements, solving real-world challenges. 

Sangeeta worked on a problem statement given by the company of HCLTech which required her to predict whether there would be an influenza outbreak in each region by using the Twitter Dataset or the Influenza Surveillance Dataset. 

On the other hand, Devina solved a problem statement from Carsome that requires participants to develop a pricing algorithm accurately predicting the selling price range of a car based on auction data, brand, and mileage.

"Developing the time series model for influenza outbreak prediction was crucial for accurate and timely information to help public health officials, medical professionals, and individuals prepare and respond effectively to influenza outbreaks. By forecasting influenza outbreaks in advance, we can better allocate resources, implement preventive measures, and minimise the impact on public health," explained Sangeeta. 

"The entire hackathon process was amazing. I would encourage all women out there to come out and leverage such platforms and showcase their potential," added a mother who aims to become a reputed data scientist in the future. 

In this rigorous competition that lasted for one-and-a-half months, Devina disclosed that she had successfully developed a regression model with high accuracy, as high as 93%, and received applause from a Carsome representative for her extra steps in deploying the model itself by creating a mini system for users to interact with it. 

"This is one of the first capstone projects I have done. It is quite challenging to learn most things from scratch despite knowing the concept of data mining itself. I referred to quite a few Kaggle and GitHub notebooks and codes and learned how other people approach their projects. I have also learned and applied much newly learned knowledge, especially for Python," said Devina, who had been offered an internship at Carsome upon winning. 

She further stated, "The experience not only taught me a lot but also boosted my confidence and motivation to keep learning and enriching my portfolio with even bigger and better projects." Devina had been anticipating this hackathon since she had previously joined several events held by Girls in Tech, Inc., where she met many amazing women.

APU outstanding female students - Sangeeta Yadav (left) and Devina Wiyani pose at the advanced-equipped tech lab on the APU campus.

Being aspiring women in tech, both Sangeeta and Devina encouraged their counterparts. "Woman, just give your talent a push. You are never late to start. Just do it," said Sangeeta. And Devina opined, "Just continue to prove ourselves regardless of identity. Despite any difficulties, keep thriving." 

[1] #HerEducationOurFuture, Innovation and Technology for gender equality, the latest facts on gender equality in education, UNESCO.