As the kaleidoscope of environmental issues continues to escalate globally, our need for innovative solutions becomes increasingly urgent. To harness the brilliant minds of our community in a determined rally around these concerns, Girls in Tech facilitated the Hack for the Environment hackathon—a collaborative effort to drive innovative new solutions and tools. 

This year’s hackathon participants developed tech solutions for a range of environmental issues concerning waste, deforestation, endangered species, and climate change. The event provided a unique opportunity for developers, designers, and environmental enthusiasts from all walks of the industry to channel their skills towards creating tangible, impactful solutions.

The winning projects

It was no easy feat, selecting only three winners from the inspiring concepts that came through. But select we did, and we are proud to present you with Solar Sync, HomeGrown and GreenUp!

1st place: Solar Sync

The team: Georgia Heeler, Alisa Promthep, Kristen Adams, Meliora Ho, Jaanhvi Agarwal

The concept: While researching pain points of EV driving and factors that sway people away from purchasing an EV car, we came across the statistic that U.S. consumption of electricity, driven in part by battery-powered vehicles, will triple by 2045 (Elon Musk from a Wall Street Journal article in July 2023). We learned that traditional EV charging uses non-renewable grid energy, meaning an EV boom in the near future could put a major strain on the U.S. power grid. The SolarSync app allows users to find convenient, reliable, and available EV charging stations, connect with a trusted network of verified EV chargers, and embrace solar-powered electricity use. We emphasized creating a user-friendly and intuitive platform that serves as a one-stop shop for EV drivers who are conscious of their carbon footprint.

“As someone who was familiar with the dominant male presence in hackathons, I really appreciate how this hackathon has enabled me to learn and get help from so many inspiring women. I want to explore EV for a while, and my members very much support and build on the idea. SolarSync wouldn’t be what it is now without my members and our mentors.”

Meliora Ho

Explore the project page here.

2nd place: GreenUp

The team: Amanda Hoang, Zoe Chan, Jully Nguyen

The concept: GreenUp is an app designed to seamlessly integrate sustainability into users’ daily routines. By harnessing the power of artificial intelligence, GreenUp transforms the way we make eco-conscious choices. With a simple scan or search, users can instantly access information about a product’s recyclability and discover more sustainable alternatives. Beyond facilitating informed decision-making, GreenUp goes a step further by analyzing users’ consumption patterns and knowledge levels. This enables the app to provide personalized suggestions tailored to individual habits, while also offering a pathway for users to enhance their understanding of sustainable practices over time. In addition, GreenUp serves as a real-time information hub, keeping users updated on the latest developments in the environmental realm. By combining convenience, education, and technology, GreenUp empowers users to create a significant positive impact on the planet, one choice at a time.

“Being a part of Girls in Tech’s hackathon was an incredible experience. Throughout this journey, I got to immerse myself in the world of sustainability, gained invaluable knowledge and experiences, and formed deep connections with my team and mentors. It was a genuine privilege and honor to really challenge and contribute my technical skills to an important cause.”

– Jully Nguyen, GreenUp team

Explore the project page here.

3rd place: HomeGrown

The team: Bharath Vishal Ganesamoorthy, Riya Aggarwal, Aathithyan K K, Esha Nambiar, Ziva Wernick

The concept: Urban gardening is a hugely beneficial concept, as it helps to combat the effects of climate change on crop growth and reduces carbon emissions. The first thing we wanted to know was the challenges that people face in gardening. We conducted a survey and determined that people need assistance growing and monitoring their crops. And then, even if they do grow crops, there is no marketplace where they can sell them. 

We came up with a solution in the form of an app that would: 

  • recommend crops based on the specific region
  • diagnose plant diseases using computer vision
  • build a community to create a virtual marketplace for users
  • and, track the plant life cycle to celebrate milestones at each stage. 

We believe that this app will help people overcome the challenges they face in urban gardening and make a positive impact on the environment.

“Let us be the generation that hacks for harmony—where innovation not only revolutionizes the present but sustains the beauty of our world for the future. In our code, we etch the legacy of a more balanced, sustainable tomorrow”

 – Riya Aggarwal

Explore the project page here.

Thank you to all involved

A special thank you to every one of our participants for their contribution to this event, as well as our judging panel that combined industry experts from Guidewire, McKesson, and TIAA. Thank you also to our hackathon mentor Deepika Geleda for providing support and guidance to our hackathon participants.

The entire hackathon team was blown away with the quality of projects entered as a result of this event. While we had to pick only three winners, each and every product created exemplifies the potential for positive change when diverse minds come together with a shared goal. We’re so proud to facilitate the coming together of such talented tech minds from across the world!

“Watching these talented young women come together, harness their creativity, and tackle complex challenges with determination and innovation has been nothing short of inspiring. It’s a testament to the limitless potential that exists when we provide equal opportunities and support to all aspiring minds. This hackathon reminds us that diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords; they’re the driving forces behind progress and innovation. As we move forward, let’s continue to nurture and empower the next generation of tech leaders, ensuring that the future is not just bright, but brilliantly diverse and inclusive. Together, we can break down barriers and unlock a world of limitless possibilities.”

– Deepika Geleda, Project Analyst, Guidewire Software

To hear about all future hackathons, networking events and upskilling courses please join the Girls in Tech community here.