The NCBI North Texas Workshops and Codeathon 2021 finished with a three-day online, interactive codeathon. Codeathons help solve biological problems by fostering collaborative environments for attendees to create new computational tools and are a great learning, networking, and project development experience for scientists at any stage in their career. One team leader from the NCBI North Texas Codeathon described them as, “great platforms that bring together people from varied backgrounds to solve problems”. He further explained the importance of collaborating through codeathons by stating, “they provide the missing link by connecting clinicians with basic scientists, engineers, and computational experts”.
Sample materials generated by teams at the NCBI North Texas Codeathon held May 18th-20th.
Like the North Texas workshops described in our previous posts (NCBI Insights: June 1 and June 22), the NCBI North Texas Codeathon was online only due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Despite the virtual format, the codeathon still fostered collaboration and networking. One attendee said, “This opportunity was very helpful to me. I want to go to medical school after I graduate and during the codeathon I was able to work with physicians and build a good relationship. We are continuing the project this summer and I’m excited to keep learning!” Many attendees preferred the online format of this event. One said, “I am not sure I would have been able to attend in person due to logistics of travel and I actually really liked online aspects. It is less intimidating to ask questions through slack messages and you can look back on all your conversations after the event, which helps me learn”.
Participants attended the NCBI North Texas Codeathon from the comfort of their own home, but actively collaborated with team members. Teams used online collaboration tools to communicate and tackle group tasks, as well as present their progress and receive feedback from all attendees.
Beyond networking, codeathon participants built important skills and tackled scientific problems. Throughout the three-day event, students, researchers, and medical professionals collaborated on projects involving automated glaucoma diagnosis, SARS-CoV-2 variation, and the development of a sequence analysis pipeline. While working on their projects, they learned about different programming languages, machine learning, cloud computing, software containerization, data visualization, and more. Many participants felt that the codeathon was an effective learning environment, improving upon traditional educational experiences. An educator from the University of Dallas said, “It was a neat education strategy. We were able to learn from the workshops and directly apply what we just learned in the codeathon. The approach was blended, and I really liked that. Every participant brought different perspectives to the project and we were able to accomplish a lot and build new skills”.
To see what these teams accomplished at the NCBI North Texas Workshops and Codeathon 2021, check out their GitHub repositories. If you have any questions about NCBI codeathons or interest in participating in future events contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .