Contestants to create data-driven concepts for a barrier-free campus in Feb. 17-18 diversity hackathon

Bara Safarova

Using their digital and artistic skills, contestants will vie for $5,000 in prize money by creating data-sourced concepts for a Texas A&M University campus free of physical and virtual barriers to the disabled as part of the Feb. 17-18, 2017 Diversity Accessibility Hackathon hosted by the Texas A&M College of Architecture Diversity Council.

The competition, open to all students, faculty and staff, is free but registration is required. Food and T-shirts will be provided to contest participants.

The 22-hour event kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 in third-floor studios of the Langford Architecture Center’s Building A when the accessibility-related challenges will be announced. Hackathon participants, teamed in groups as large as eight, will be tasked to develop wide-ranging solutions that will enhance campus accessibility for all, such as architectural or planning proposals, curricula, applications or artistic installations. All kinds of solutions will be welcomed.

To shape their results, teams will mine datasets that shed light on campus barrier issues, such as the information available through Texas A&M Data and Research Services, Texas A&M Transportation Services and other public databases.

“For example, hackathon participants could be asked to respond to the 1,502 people who have requested accommodations with Texas A&M Disability Services by creating projects that include additions integral to the physical and digital fabric of the university, not add-ons or afterthoughts,” said Bara Safarova, a Ph.D. architecture student helping to organize the event.

Contest mentors with experience interpreting large datasets will be available to help teams brainstorm and think creatively.

Entries will be evaluated at 3 p.m., Feb. 18 by a jury of university faculty and representatives. An awards ceremony will conclude the event.

The College of Architecture Diversity Council is hosting the event with the Texas A&M Libraries Maps & GIS Services, the College of Education and Human Development, the Dwight Look College of Engineering, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, the College of Geosciences, Department of Geography, and the College of Architecture’s Information Technology Services.

In a 2014 diversity council-hosted hackathon, participants created innovative presentations of diversity-related data.

The council also hosted an “Open Data Build Day” in 2016, in which contestants created data-based, spatially illustrated solutions for diversity-related challenges.

posted February 3, 2017