Hebron Mekuria, junior engineering and computer science double major, and her team of three other college women in tech from the U.S. and Canada won Best Hack for Multi-Cultural Innovation at the third annual Black Wings Hacks in February 2023.

Junior wins multi-cultural innovation award for Internet Hospital website

Hebron Mekuria, junior engineering and computer science double major, and her team of three other college women in tech from the U.S. and Canada won Best Hack for Multi-Cultural Innovation at the third annual Black Wings Hacks in February 2023. The virtual hackathon is “an opportunity for college women to gather and work on technical projects that matter to them and our society.” The event is sponsored by RTC (Rewriting the Code) Black Wings, a group for Black women in technology and engineering majors.

Mekuria and her teammates were among 150 participants competing for 20 prizes in interest groups of two to four women, each working to code a project pertaining to the overall theme of “social good.” Participants had access to professional mentors who held workshops and helped with problem statements.

Mekuria’s team coded a website called “Internet Hospital,” an online platform that connects patients with licensed medical professionals for virtual consultations free of charge. Mekuria got the idea for the platform after seeing people ask medical questions on forum sites like Reddit. She shared the project idea with her team members, who were all interested in medical technology, and they decided Internet Hospital would provide patients with a more secure and verified way to get quick diagnoses—especially those with limited access to health insurance or medical expertise.

“Almost half of people in the U.S. do not have good health insurance coverage. Internet Hospital could help to bridge that gap,” said Mekuria, whose hackathon participation resulted in the opportunity to work with women in her field for the first time. “It was such an encouraging experience… a feeling of ‘oh, we CAN do it.’”

Daniel Showalter is Mekuria’s computer science professor and says she sets herself apart both in—and out of the classroom. “Hebron has been diligent in thinking big-picture beyond her classes. She has been known to spend four to five hours a day working on applying for internships, developing her coding, and networking… all outside her normal classwork.”

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