HER Academy Hackathon

This past Saturday, October 20th, 2018, I had the opportunity to volunteer at an all-girl middle and high school hackathon. This small event was put on by the H.E.R. Academy and partnered with Columbus School for Girls, resulting in the turn out of 11 girls – one 7th grader, six 8th graders, and four 9th graders.

The hackathon went from 10 am until 5 pm, with a break for lunch, and was not a typical hackathon, as it focused on physics concepts with an introduction to Java, where the girls that attended were familiar with Scratch and Python. The day was split up into many sections: the first being a ‘Hello World!’ exercise and focused on a ‘Move the Blob’ program. The second was an extension of the ‘Move the Blob’ program, which was now an ‘Accelerate the Blob’ exercise. Next, guest speaker Rachel Ferst talked to the girls about what it meant to be a women in the tech industry, primarily in the competitive environment of Silicon Valley, and choosing where she wanted to live, then finding a job.

The next task for the girls to complete was a project of their choosing – either ‘Pong’ and ‘’, ‘Planetoids’, or ‘Estimation of Pi’. After doing so, they split off into pairs and had an hour to work on a new project, or an advancement of an existing project. After this, the girls gathered for a ‘Family Feud’ themed cyber-security game, where they learned the importance of safety on the internet and social media.

Finally, each team presented their projects, and the rest of the group voted based on three categories: creativity, sophistication/difficulty of code, and originality. The teams that were awarded the most points in each category received a prize, and everyone got a t-shirt. All of the different projects were unique and creative that these girls created in an hour. When I was 13, I could not imagine coding something – anything, for that matter, but these girls were so smart and curious and capable and made the effort to put themselves out there, knowing that it was okay to fail. Many of the pairs decided to implement their projects in a language they already were familiar with – Scratch, Python, etc. However, one of the pairs challenged themselves to use their newly-found Java skills. Their end product ended up not working, but the fact that they tried something new and explored a concept was very impressive.

My job as a volunteer was to help coordinate these activities, making a smooth transition between them, and also to help explain concepts to the girls if they got stuck on part of a problem. The fact that there were fewer than 15 attendees made it so that there was a lot of one-on-one help for issues that arose, and a lot of flexibility since it was the nonprofit’s first ever configuration of an event like this.

It was heartwarming and very gratifying to see the girls so interested and motivated to succeed with a brand new language. I overheard them discussing the creative different ideas that they had for the project they would build themselves – hearing them get so excited over computer science really made me feel like I was making a difference and further reinstated my beliefs that it is important to spark tech interest in young people.

This event was so important to me because it was the first event that I have helped organize for HER Academy, and I could not have asked for better results. I learned a lot in the process of how to run a successful event, as well as the level at which young girls are at in computer science.

In the future, I hope to help plan more events like this with even bigger turnouts, so that the organization can reach as many young girls as possible. The planning of other hackathons is in the works, so I’m excited to see how those turn out and to make an even larger impact on my community.

FEH Robot Project

A significant accomplishment and project for me was the Fundamentals of Engineering Honors Robot Project that took place from January until April 2018. This project required a lot of dedication, teamwork, and communication, all while learning how to build a robot from scratch to accomplish specific tasks and how to minimize the $160 budget. Overall, I learned a lot about time management and leadership being in a group of four and having to delegate responsibilities and tasks, and I also had a lot of fun problem solving and working with my group.

The group was put together at the end of January, and the robot challenge was introduced. One of our first tasks was to create a schedule and brainstorm preliminary design concepts. Initially, we brainstormed separately and then came together and combined all of our ideas to maximize different factors, . Eventually, we came up with an idea of what we thought would be best, although we had not yet explored options to find out what would actually work best for us. We learned how to make a concept scoring matrix to decide what success criteria for each design would be best. We came to the conclusion that a wooden two-wheel skid with a rotating forklift would be cheapest and easiest to build.

The next step was to create a mockup out of cardboard, pencils, tape, and hot glue to try and represent what our robot might look like without using too many actual resources. After creating this, the team really thought the use of cardboard was fun, so we came up with our team name, Needs More Cardboard.

Next, some basic navigation functions were written in C++ to allow the robot to move forward and backwards, turning left and right, and driving straight until hitting a wall. These were written using shaft encoding and bump switches, but not Robot Positioning System (RPS).

To make the robot based on our ideas, we had to pick a chassis, motors, and specific mechanisms for completing the tasks. We thoroughly analyzed the different options to determine which would be best for us: a wooden chassis because it was small, easily changeable, and lightweight; Vex motors because they were low-cost, reliable, had good torque vs. speed, and were easy to use.

As time progressed, the robot had weekly performance tests for points where we had to accomplish specific goals. We had the whole week prior to test our code and add what was needed to the robot, and scored perfectly (including the bonuses) on all four tests. These tests were helpful because they allowed us to stay on target for the final competition day, and we could refine issues that arose.

Finally, April came around and we had the individual competition where we had to complete the whole course for as many points in as little time as possible to be ranked for final competition. However, we faced issues due to the fluctuating Proteus charge. So, our individual competition scores were not ideal, as our highest score was 83/100. Luckily, we had a week before the final competition and so we could make a lot of changes, including changing the skid to two spoons, and changing the path the robot took.

Competition day finally rolled around on April 7, 2018. The team’s strategy for the course can be found in the image below.

The first three Round Robin runs were not as good as anticipated, and there were several problems that arose on competition day. The team focused on trying to solve these issues as fast and as efficiently as possible. This ended up working, as the first round of Head to Head competition was a perfect run as shown in the video below!

Victory was not as close as we had hoped, because in the Sweet 16 round of Head to Head competition, the robot’s wheel got caught on the course, and ended up with 81 points, and did not move forward into the Final Four.

We were very disappointed, but ultimately had a lot of fun on competition day to see our hard work pay off. We also received 2nd place for Outstanding Achievement in Engineering by Honda R&D for the use of cardboard!

This project taught me the importance of communication in group work and camaraderie. The values I earned are so prevalent in the engineering world and what my future career will look like – even now, during my internship, I see the gravity of communication and teamwork. Although I do not necessarily see robotics as a future endeavor, this meaningful experience will guide always follow me to future jobs, internships, and other opportunities.

Additional and more extensive information about this project can be found on the documentation website.

Year in Review

[ “Year in Review”  is where you should reflect on the past year and show how you have evolved as a person and as a student.  You may want to focus on your growth in a particular area (as a leader, scholar, researcher, etc.) or you may want to talk about your overall experience over the past year.  For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


[ “G.O.A.L.S.” is a place where students write about how their planned, current, and future activities may fit into the Honors & Scholars G.O.A.L.S.: Global Awareness, Original Inquiry, Academic Enrichment, Leadership Development, and Service Engagement. For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.

Global Awareness: Students cultivate and develop their appreciation for diversity and each individual’s unique differences. For example, consider course work, study abroad, involvement in cultural organizations or activities, etc .
Original Inquiry: Honors & Scholars students understand the research process by engaging in experiences ranging from in-class scholarly endeavors to creative inquiry projects to independent experiences with top researchers across campus and in the global community. For example, consider research, creative productions or performances, advanced course work, etc.
Academic Enrichment: Honors & Scholars students pursue academic excellence through rigorous curricular experiences beyond the university norm both in and out of the classroom.
Leadership Development: Honors & Scholars students develop leadership skills that can be demonstrated in the classroom, in the community, in their co-curricular activities, and in their future roles in society.
Service Engagement: Honors & Scholars students commit to service to the community.]


[“Career” is where you can collect information about your experiences and skills that will apply to your future career.  Like your resume, this is information that will evolve over time and should be continually updated.   For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.]


[Artifacts are the items you consider to be representative of your academic interests and achievements. For each entry, include both an artifact and a detailed annotation.  An annotation is a reflective description of the artifact that attempts to communicate its significance.  For more information, go to: Delete these instructions and add your own post.]

My name is Meghan Walther, and I am a second-year honors Ohio State student majoring in Computer Science and Engineering (with a minor to be determined)! Although I am not quite sure what kind of career I want just yet, I am currently exploring data analytics and software engineering paths. I currently have an internship where I help perform data extractions, aid the development team in creating scripts, and correspond with clients.


I am passionate about creating equal environments for women in engineering and other STEM fields, as shown through my involvement with HER Academy, which is a nonprofit that encourages elementary and middle school girls to get involved in computer science, and Project Nicaragua, which helps empower women in Rancho Grande, Nicaragua. Being a woman in computer science, a very heavily male-populated major, it is extremely important for me to encourage other women to explore STEM fields.

The purpose of this ePortfolio is to establish my goals, track my endeavors, figure out my career path, and better understand my growth.