University Talent

VMware CodeHouse 2020: The Virtual Experience

This year, for the first time in VMware history, a select group of women were invited to attend an all-virtual VMware CodeHouse event from the comfort and convenience of their own home. This unique event brought together a community of women technologists from universities across the United States while offering opportunities to learn new skills and network with industry leaders. Without a doubt, open source was a key component of this year’s event, as participants competed in teams to build and run applications on Kubernetes in a fast-paced, 48-hour challenge that targeted topics such as STEM education, diversity, and inclusion, and COVID-19.

Students quickly adapted to the virtual environment by utilizing collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, and Github. Eighteen Black and Latina women pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science gathered virtually for VMware CodeHouse Atlanta, while twenty women pursuing advanced degrees participated in VMware CodeHouse, Palo Alto. Students overcame challenges posed in a virtual environment throughout both events, including unintentional moments on “mute” and unplugged laptop chargers (which later became laughable memories).  Nonetheless, VMware CodeHouse provided students with a platform to connect and use their technical skills for good by giving back to the community.

In preparation for this year’s VMware CodeHouse, attendees practiced building containers and engaged in an introductory course on Kubernetes. For many, this was their first-time using containers, and interest ran high in building out microservice-based apps instead of traditional monolithic apps. Each team benefited from having an experienced VMware employee to serve as their mentor. Mentors assisted with brainstorming ideas, resolving technical issues, and answering questions. From VMware’s Modern Application Platform team, Jonas Rosland and Jorge Castro provided overall technology direction as this year’s event tech leads.

On the last day of each VMware CodeHouse event, attendees virtually met VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, who shared personal stories of his early career journey and current industry insights. Students got an exclusive opportunity to get to know Pat in an intimate group discussion.

Shortly after, it was time to present. Each team showcased their final project to a panel of VMware judges. Presentations included an application demo, an explanation of technologies used, the application’s possible impact on society, and future project use cases. The judges were not only impressed by each team’s solution and technical expertise, but they were also captured by the attendees’ creativity and genuine passion for their proposed solutions. Now, let’s talk about the winners!

VMware CodeHouse Atlanta Winning Team

This year, we awarded Tylar Watson, Tsion Coulter, Deandra Harvin, and Stephanie Hernandez as the first-place winners of VMware CodeHouse Atlanta 2020. Their solution, “Puzzling the Past,” tackles both STEM education and diversity and inclusion in a gamified learning application running on Kubernetes. The application promotes fun e-learning for beginner coders by providing them with a platform to test their knowledge and earn puzzle pieces for each quiz question answered correctly. When the user earns enough pieces to complete the puzzle, they will see a completed image of an influential woman of color alongside a video explaining that person’s achievements. Some examples of figures they selected were Mary D. Ross, Dr. Gladys West, and Dr. Ellen Ochoa. Additionally, this team raised the bar by utilizing a text-to-speech API to ensure inclusiveness for users with disabilities and hand-drawing the entire UI design in just 48-hours.

VMware CodeHouse Palo Alto Winning Team

The following week, we awarded Devika Shanbhag, Sayli Karnik, Tanvi Math, and Melanie Wong as the first-place winners of VMware CodeHouse Palo Alto 2020. This group created a community-driven web application to tackle COVID-19 challenges, such as reducing unemployment rates, leveling the supply and demand gap, and providing a safe social interaction medium. Their solution, “Better Together,” provides users with access to view available jobs in the local area, stay up to date with COVID-19 stats, and overcome physical barriers of the pandemic by offering a live community support group-chat and live chat-bot.

In the face of a pandemic, VMware CodeHouse provided a medium for the brightest technical minds to safely engage with each other, learn new technologies, and have fun. The VMware University Talent team would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all the attendees for making the first virtual event a huge success.

Do you want to be part of VMware CodeHouse next year? Applications for our Atlanta and Palo Alto events open up in early 2021. Be sure to check out our event sites, so you don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity!


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