Tulsa students build robots at 12-hour ‘Black Futures Hackathon’

TULSA, Okla. — Software engineering school, Holberton Tulsa, partnered with nonprofit Urban Coders Guild to organize a 12-hour “hackathon” on Monday.

In celebration of Black History Month, the free event designed to inspire diversity in the technology field is called the “Black Futures Hackathon.”

Urban Coders Guild is an organization dedicated to working with those living in underrepresented communities to develop tech talent.

“Hackathons play an important role in the tech community because they bring people together to work collaboratively on a challenge. Most hackathons are convened for adults, but our focus is always on the youth. Our annual Black History Month hackathon is particularly special for us because we have an opportunity to honor Black history while also developing future Black tech creators and innovators,” said Mikeal Vaughn, founder and executive director of Urban Coders Guild.

The students who attended had the opportunity to build and program robots to do different tasks.

“I believe there are around 50 kids here. We’ve broken up into groups and each team has their own little robot to put together,” said Monty Williams, a full stack web developer. “So, part of the process is, as for the kids, to work together, to communicate with each other and we want to build soft skills, not only about technology, but also working together in groups. As far as the actual robot building itself, we’ve divided our teams in the two groups. We have our software side doing programming and we have the mechanic side which is more of actually building the robot itself. Now these roles aren’t defined, we’re switching out, everybody’s taking turns.”

Williams said this event is a way to give students an opportunity to get into technology who may not have previously had the opportunity or resources to do so.

Multiple Carver Middle School students attended to take advantage of the fun technology training the event had to offer.

Student Yanyla said she had so much fun at the event because she wants to be a technology engineer when she’s older.

“I’m in charge of building,” she said. “I like designing. So that’s why I kind of want to place stuff together.”

Other students spoke of their robots, giving them names and designs special to their teams.

“So basically, what we’ve been working on is, like a CPU oriented robot and we’re basically like trying to build it and program it and make it go around like obstacles,” said student Jeremiah. “Our name was Team Universe and we drew a whole world with asteroids around it and like the asteroid belt and like other planets just surrounded by it.”

Another student Ni’Jhaya, who was also on Team Universe, said her favorite part was getting to know the other students and getting to bond over building robots.