Sparking the Passions of Young Coders With Code Nation

Volunteering at the 2023 Chicago Hackathon, from left to right: software crafter Ismail Karabulut, senior crafter Dave Torre, and software crafter Malisa Middlebrooks. Photo courtesy of Code Nation.

Kristin Kaeding

May 12, 2023

We recently continued our partnership with Code Nation by sponsoring and volunteering at their third annual Chicago Hackathon!

Several 8th Light professionals joined nearly 100 other tech professionals to support 149 high school students for Code Nation’s hackathon at Chicago Google Headquarters. The one-day event allows students to apply the learning they do with Code Nation throughout the year, while also building connections and excitement for their future careers.

This year’s attendees were divided into two tracks — one for first-year students, and another for second and third-time “fellows” — and broken into small groups to address the event’s prompt to “Code Your Passion.”

It was inspiring to hear so many students focus on important causes like climate change, and it made me even more proud of our partnership with an organization that empowers young people with skills, knowledge, and confidence.

Because the hackathon is condensed in both time and space, it creates a unique environment and an exciting atmosphere to be in.

“It was great seeing the students light up about ideas they had for what to build,” says Dave Torre, an 8th Light senior crafter and another volunteer at the hackathon. “A few times, I noticed and pointed out that students were working on similar problems within the same team. It was nice to see them help each other after realizing this.”

Code nation hackathon
8th Light software crafter Pedro Lopez (standing, left) helps a team of students develop a custom software application. Photo courtesy of Code Nation.

8th Light has been a proud partner of Code Nation for all three of these hackathons, and our support extends year-round.

This summer, 8th Light will host the Bright Project in our Chicago headquarters. Bright Project is run by Code Nation in partnership with Gray Matter Experience and Illinois Science & Technology Coalition. It's a six-week summer experience exploring the connection between healthcare and technology. Students tackle an authentic industry challenge and build their skills in human-centered design, coding, and business.

I’ve been leading our partnership with Code Nation since their Chicago launch in 2019, and I’m passionate about the group’s focus on creating both qualitative and quantitative positive impacts for the students they serve. They commit to the hard work of making a difference in students’ lives, and supporting these students’ careers into adulthood.

About Code Nation

Code Nation is a national organization bridging the digital divide and creating new opportunities for students in STEM through education and empowerment. Throughout the United States, Code Nation connects students in under-resourced high schools with professionals working in technology who give them guidance and support.

Kristin Kaeding

Head of Delivery

Serving as Head of Delivery, Kristin Kaeding is an experienced technology professional who delivers high-quality software solutions in a wide range of technologies, industries, and countries. Throughout her career, Kristin has consulted on and delivered solutions that span from education technology to web applications for clients and nonprofits.