Earth Hacks: Tell us a bit about yourself (i.e., where you’re from, your background, what you’re in school for, etc.)!
Danny Banko: I am a current senior studying Computer Science at the University of Washington Bothell (UWB) and former president of UWB Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). I am passionate about the outdoors, volunteer work, the tech industry/tech solutions, and mentoring peers through TA positions and ACM. In addition, I am currently interning at ServiceNow as a Software Engineer.
EH: What was your experience like organizing UWB Hacks the Cloud hackathon?
DB: Organizing UWB Hacks the Cloud was one of the most challenging events I have planned in my time as ACM President. A hackathon at face value seemed straightforward to plan and organize, but that was not the case. We started planning the hackathon in December and finished preparing all the resources days before the hackathon in May. There are many moving parts involved when planning and hosting an event that will benefit participants and ACM officers. ACM’s mission as a student lead club is to plan events that our peers will benefit from, whether it be a new project to put on their resume or new peers to network with, and much more.
EH: What drew you to studying Computer Science?
DB: I started studying Computer Science at Community College after I graduated high school. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study, which led me to take a variety of classes such as business, psychology, and computer science classes. CS caught my interest from day one of my first CS class, it was challenging, and completely new to me. Challenging work, whether it be through a class assignment, personal project, or internship that I do keeps me engaged and curious. I think the thing I enjoy the most about CS is the constant learning involved with being a CS student or professional. You never stop learning, and that is important to me.
EH: What role(s) do you see software engineering playing in environmental sustainability today and is that the kind of work you see yourself doing in the future?
DB: This is a very good and tough question to answer. I don’t have much knowledge about how software engineers make an individual environmental sustainability impact outside of their personal lives. I could speak to a company level, and that I know of many companies who are working towards or have already achieved carbon neutral status. We talked about this subject during the Earth Hacks event at UWB Hacks the Cloud, and how many companies use a lot of power to support their products, and some are investing in more in house renewable energy or more efficient hardware to reduce energy costs and emissions. I think that’s a step in the right direction, but there is always more that we can do to achieve at least a neutral carbon footprint. As an outdoor enthusiast, and Eagle Scout, environmental sustainability is very important to me, and I want to work at a company that cares as much about their environmental impact as I care about my own.
EH: What’s a fun fact about you that not many people know about you?
DB: A fun fact about me that a lot of people don’t know is that I am an Eagle Scout. Although I don’t talk much about being involved in scouts or the fact that I am an Eagle Scout, I most certainly use a lot of skills I learned from those days. From my experience, becoming an Eagle Scout, and acquiring the skill to achieve that rank helped me develop a lot of leadership and professional skills at a younger age. Whether the skills are directly related to what you want to do for a career, there is a lot of applicability of the skills you learn no matter what you choose to do or where you choose to work.
EH: Have you ever participated in a hackathon before and what would you say to someone who has never participated in a hackathon before?
DB: I have participated in a few hackathons. Hackathons are a great opportunity to meet new people, build new skills, and make creative projects. I used to be intimidated to attend hackathons, especially because I didn’t think that I knew enough [programming] languages or tools to be helpful to my team. After the first one or two hackathons I went to, I realized that wasn’t the case. You learn tools on the fly and work with your team, no matter the experience level you have, there is always meaningful contributions to make towards your project. I cannot stress enough how important and beneficial hackathons are, both for learning and career opportunities. If you can develop a cool project in 24–48 hours and create a working or even partially working project, that is very impressive for employers. Hackathons also show potential employers that you can learn and build something on the fly, and that’s a big part of your job as a Software Engineer. If you’re questioning if you should go to that upcoming hackathon, do it!