Feature Story

It’s ok to break things!

by Kirsten Chiala

it's ok to break things

See why Women in Science & Engineering at Cisco say taking risks inspires innovation.

Cisco lit up the scene at the recent IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference in the heart of downtown San Jose.

Hundreds of women in tech came together to “be legendary” and to get inspired by talks on innovation, empowerment, entrepreneurship, leadership and emerging technology.

In the Cisco Innovation Café, mentors spent time coaching and advising. Several Cisco executives inspired women with talks on technology and how to propel forward with big ideas and dreams.

Takeaway advice:

1. Put yourself out there

2. Know what you want

Cisco’s developer program, DevNet teamed up with WISE, Cisco’s Women in Science and Engineering to put on a microhack.

“DevNet is all about supporting our developers to build solutions, develop their careers, help their organizations, and generally inspire everyone else to build great innovations. At hackathons, it's okay to break things.  It's okay to take risks, and at the end of the day, you make things work.”- Shubha Govil, product manager, DevNet Engineering Team

The mini hack day gave coders a chance to learn about Cisco APIs and work with Cisco Spark, Tropo and APIC-EM. Organizers sent coders information about the learning labs that are on Cisco DevNet, and how to use Sandbox to code and learn. Then coders set out to solve a real life challenge!

The teams shared a demo of their solution with the judges. Some of the ideas the hackers came up with included: making the life of a customer support engineer easier, solving a world traveler's dilemma, and helping autistic children figure out the color of objects using technology. 

The judges said they would key in on original ideas that lead to a positive business outcome. They also wanted to see teamwork, and if the coders prepared a demo.

“I think these events are incredibly important for Cisco and other tech companies because they give us an opportunity to unleash the creativity in people. These are the environments in which we get to see what people are thinking. Cisco is very much invested into the Internet of Things, and we get a variety of ideas through these sessions, and it's really incredible.”

 –Monique Morrow, CTO- Evangelist New Frontiers Development & Engineering

And finally, show them the money! Three teams took away a big check! The team "Travel Quest" took away first prize with the design of an application using Cisco Tropo, to help international travelers figure out transit directions without paying big international data roaming charges.

Cisco WISE announced the winning teams and the ideas during the closing Plenary session.

Archana Kamath, global chair for WISE, said the group is committed to helping women technologists from all walks of life come together, learn from each other and grow.

"Coding camps and Hackathons are a great way for developers to learn from and collaborate with other like-minded technologists. The experience gained by implementing an idea using a technology completely new to you and the satisfaction from seeing your ideas spring to life in that short amount of time is irreplaceable. "

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