Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

DevNet workshops at the Athena Hack 2019: Webex helps save the oceans!

May 30, 2019

Championing female technologists whilst contributing to solving the ocean plastic crisis? This was what the Athena Hack was all about – and we at Cisco DevNet were ALL IN!


Our onsite team and offsite crew

Organised by ShowCode, the Athena Hack – an all-women hackathon – took place on the 13th to 14th of April at Queen Mary University in London, where participants were faced with the challenge of using their skills to come up with and pitch their idea on how to battle the plastic crisis afflicting the world’s oceans.

What we did on the day – teamwork in action

Our local DevNet team, in synergy with our all-female team of Early-In-Career Systems Engineers, organised and hosted walk-in workshops for attendees to familiarise themselves with the basics of Cisco Webex Teams before building a service workflow containing a Webex Teams bot; a task that would hopefully spark their interest in incorporating interaction with a Webex Teams bot into their hack proposal! A great example of this is illustrated in Roger Dickinson’s recent blog post.

The stakes were high as the best ideas were rewarded with prizes, one of which was for using Cisco Webex Teams in the hack in the most creative way. Congratulations went to the Wearside Warriors from the University of Sunderland who won the Cisco Webex Sponsor Prize!


Fun bots, serious cause

Webex workshops

With 80% of the plastics reaching our oceans via inland sources, the Wearside Warriors designed a website encouraging both a proactive and a reactive attitude to addressing this issue. Their platform provides the option to choose sustainable products as well as contribute towards repairing the damage already done.

Users can ask whether their favourite retail stores are working to reduce the amount of harmful plastic that ends up in our oceans by interacting with the Cisco Webex Teams bot; when presented with the company name, the bot responds with their stance on plastic use! Users can also swap products for sustainable alternatives and earn loyalty points for choosing plastic-free options. All the Athena Hack 2019 submissions and winners can be found here.

What else did we do on the day?

Cisco’s Ellie Ulrich (right) takes the stage

Cisco’s participation in the Athena Hack 2019 wasn’t limited to hosting the Webex workshops. We had an active presence throughout the day with our very own Cisco booth (and yes, we did hand out goodies)! Whilst on stage, Ellie Ulrich joined the panel discussion on what the World Wide Web (WWW) has to offer during the next 30 years.

It’s about talent,” said Ellie, “talent is key for any business in the internet age, whatever their size.”

As you may know, the WWW recently celebrated its 30 years of existence. To mark the occasion, Cisco UKI CTO, Chintan Patel takes us on a journey throughout its history and discusses how the WWW redefined the art of possible and its further imminent potential in the following blog post.

See you next year!

Overall, we were thrilled to be a part of the Athena Hack 2019 and to experience first-hand the passion, curiosity and creativity demonstrated within the female coding community.

I’d like to thank everyone who attended the Webex workshops and stopped by the Cisco booth. We hope to see you again next time!  And for anyone who couldn’t make it on the day, make sure that you don’t miss out on the Athena Hackathon Recap (see below).


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  1. I had a few emails sent to me and I don't know what to make of it. Do not know who to ask and your blog posting looked like a winner. The email in question is encrypted with this code structure (�D�j{"�*'j_� �m����). I don't know what to make of it. Decryption software obviously would be ideal, but I wanted to contact support first with the web url address. Figured somebody on here would know more than I do before I use software that might be harmful to my pc. Any solutions?

    • My email is Sorry I didn't leave it in previous post.