This past weekend, Girls in Tech Seattle teamed up with the Seattle VR/AR Collective to put on the very first Women’s Virtual Reality (VR)/Augmented Reality (AR) Create-athon at Startup Hall at the University of Washington. The goal of this event was not only to bring women with the mutual interests of VR and AR together, but also a space where people of all levels and backgrounds can learn new skills and explore this space.
The day kicked off with a star-studded Seattle tech panel of Rebecca Lovell, Director of Entrepreneurship and Industry in the City of Seattle; Cynthia Tee, Executive Director of the Ada Academy; Adrienne Hunter, Founder of Tomorrow Today Labs; and Stephanie Hurlburt, founder of Binomial. Sonal Mane, founder of Girls in Tech Seattle and Senior Technical Evangelist at Microsoft, moderated the discussion.
One of the most common themes in this panel was confidence going into the industry. It’s definitely intimidating. But the common reaction among the women was that once they dove deeper into the technology, they realized that because the VR/AR industry has only been around for a couple of years, there really wasn’t anyone that was a seasoned veteran of VR/AR. Lack of knowledge shouldn’t stop anyone from getting into something they’re really interested in. As Stephanie Hurlburt said, “It’s important to have confidence and try your ideas out – don’t be discouraged. We’re all new [in this industry.]”
After the panel, attendees went up to the front and pitched their own VR/AR ideas to form teams around. Ideas ranged from those in healthcare to virtual worlds and more. Teams could pick either a Rift or Vive headset to hack on.
Throughout the day, while attendees worked on their hacks, micro-talks were held in the main room. Talks ranged from preventing accidents in VR from Renee Gittins, CEO at Stumbling Cat, to the history of VR from John Williamson, Producer at the Science Applications International Corporation.
Not to mention – we also got the #WomenInVR hashtag trending nationally!
All and all, it was a tiring but rewarding day, with everyone who attended having learning a new skill or at least gaining new knowledge about the VR/AR space.
A big shout-out to Startup Hall for letting us use their space, Microsoft for helping to sponsor and the Seattle VR/AR Collective for being a great partner. We look forward to seeing you at our Summer Mixer next week, and at future events!