We’ve been partnering for seven years with the Technology Access Foundation (TAF), an award-winning STEM school based out of South King County. Based out of the TAF@Saghalie school in Federal Way, TAF is focused on providing equitable access to STEM education, tools, people, and opportunities for students of color. Their co-founder is a former Microsoft executive, Trish Millines-Dziko, who wanted to see more people of color and women reflected in the STEM/tech industry.
For the past four years, we have co-coordinated a “telecommunications hackathon with a cause” in partnership with TAF. We call it the Comcast NBCUniversal Innovation Challenge. Students at TAF@Saghalie School in Federal Way “hack” an issue using the power of telecommunications.
For this year’s challenge, students were asked to address this prompt: Create something to support the disability community during a natural disaster. Students learned about barriers disabled individuals experience, and how leveraging the power of broadband real-world solutions for individuals could be developed. Student groups collaborated and ideated together and developed project management skills, as well as practiced how to present and market their solution. This hackathon was conducted from late 2019 through Spring 2020 at the TAF@Saghalie School in Federal Way under the support and guidance of their teacher and 10 local Comcast employee-mentors.
The 10 mentors came from several lines of business including Marketing, Xfinity Communities, Tech Ops, Retail, and XOC. We split them into three groups, each working with the kids for a month on a different section of their projects: Ideation, Creation, Presentation. The mentors are key to the success of the program as they provide knowledge from the field and can give the students feedback and support throughout the process.
The program culminated in a final virtual event on June 9th, which included presentation videos produced by the student groups. The presentation was posted via the TAF YouTube page and those who viewed the video before 12pm PST, will be able to vote on the 6 student teams.
The Winning Team – E.V.A. to the Rescue
Congratulations to team E.V.A. to the Rescue for taking home first place! The team was made up of a Frank F., Danielle M., Karina S., and Trish V., and these students created an artificial intelligence-based application that can help alert people with disabilities of natural disasters in their area, as well as, assist them in preparing for and responding to the disasters accordingly. E.V.A. is designed to proactively speak to its users to alert them of dangerous natural disasters, and walk them through a step by step process for preparing and remaining safe.
The winning team received $1500 in college scholarships and new laptops, while the second and third place teams also received scholarship funding that they can use for their first year of college.
We are excited to honor all of the students who put in so much hard work this year and created some great projects, all while dealing with the challenge of working remotely due to COVID19.
To view the final presentations, click here or watch below.