Making Hackathons a Family Affair

Meet the second of our NETSCOUT family teams working on student hackathons that help build interest in IT careers across underrepresented communities.

Making Hackathons a Family Affair
Karen McCloskey

Second in a three-part series

At NETSCOUT, we love to make a difference, and our hackathon partnership with Shooting Stars Foundation to sponsor is a perfect example. The StarHacks helped to expose students to technology and STEM careers, and they also brought NETSCOUT families together.

In honor of Father’s Day, we are profiling NETSCOUT dads and their student leaders in a three-part series about at their hackathon experience.

This week, we feature Iman Kiio and Dan Kiio

Iman is an incoming freshman majoring in computer science at Cornell University, and Dan is a senior support engineer, GTAC, at NETSCOUT.

Hackathon Family Photo

IMAN: I got involved through my Dad and worked on three hackathons: StarHacks 2019 in Westford, Massachusetts, StarHacks 2020 in Lowell, Massachusetts, and virtual StarHacks 2021. For my first StarHacks, I was a sophomore in high school. That hackathon was challenging, because it was the first time this event had occurred in our area. My peers and I had to figure out what resources to use, the location, and how to make the event run smoothly. I was responsible for managing a budget of $3,000, co-organizing meetings for the student organizers, and planning for the food. Also, we spent hours of our own time creating the schedule, reaching out to sponsors by literally knocking on doors and going to businesses, and marketing to promote the event.

Being a part of the hackathon helped to strengthen my interest in technology. I learned about how science and technology can inspire young kids to come up with interesting and fun solutions to make a difference. Working with my dad was fun. I enjoyed spending time with him to come up with a way to help young kids learn simple coding. I also learned about my dad’s interest in technology and service to the community.

DAN: I had reached out to our Heart of Giving team to see how NETSCOUT might be able to get involved in a local STEM event for girls that Iman was participating in. After that interaction, I was invited to join a team to launch the first series of hackathons in Westford. I had a lot of fun the first time, so I came back for more.

Dan's ideal Father’s Day:
Father’s Day is one of the few times in the year I get out and play a round of golf.

When the team said they were looking for student leaders, I asked Iman. Working with her on the hackathons, I found out how much she enjoys technology and teaching coding to kids—she also does that during her spare time. 

With the last hackathon, which was held virtually, it was a pleasant surprise to find out that kids from all over the world love technology and are very enthusiastic about it. Most encouraging were the all-girl teams, because they came in either first or second. So, I am glad my daughter is in good company.

I learned a lot from the kids—probably learned more from them than they learned from me. They are very tech-savvy, and their prototypes look amazing. Just let kids run with their ideas, and you will be pleasantly surprised. They embrace the opportunity to use their creativity to help make interesting solutions, and it is fun to watch.

Learn more about Life at NETSCOUT and Heart of Giving.