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Who joined us for the first-ever AI Sports Challenge?

February 08, 2021 • Joy Zhang • Community • 3 minutes

Who joined us for the first-ever AI Sports Challenge?

The AI Sports Challenge is an AI programming tournament for developers of all levels. Teams across the globe participate by programming their own bot to compete in an online multiplayer game — played entirely by other bots. Run as a virtual hackathon/competitive programming event, the AI Sports Challenge attracted over 400 developer signups across 20 countries. You can check out a recap of it here.

When planning our first-ever AI Sports Challenge, we were interested in learning more about our upcoming participants so that we could best tailor the event for them.

However, despite how prolific hackathons and competitive programming events are, there’s surprisingly very little data out there on the demographics of participants attending these events. That’s why we decided to share a summary of our demographic survey results to help other event organisers and sponsors know what to expect.

Read on to see who joined us for the 2020 AI Sports Challenge 👇

Before we start, we’d like to give a brief shout-out and thank you to all our sponsors: Black Nova Group, Lab17, Crew Talent Advisory, Secure Code Warrior, Finder, Immutable, Antler, General Assembly, and Hackathons Australia.

The AI Sports Challenge wouldn’t have been a success without all their support. 🥰

🌏 Countries

The AI Sports Challenge was originally open exclusively to those based in Australia. However, with a string of international participants expressing their interest, we decided to open up the event globally.

It’s no surprise therefore that 76% of our participants were based in Australia. What was surprising was that the news of our event reached participants residing in over 20 countries. Apart from Australia, the top 5 countries participating were:

  1. Japan (5.0%)
  2. USA (3.3%)
  3. China (2.6%)
  4. Singapore (2.6%)
  5. Indonesia (2.3%)

Thank you to all of our international participants for persevering despite the time zone challenges!

👩‍💻 Gender Representation

It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the STEM industry. Concrete stats on gender representation in hackathon/competitive programming events are rare, but here’s some stats we found:

Here’s our result:

aisports demographic

26% is far above average and while we’re happy that we succeeded in creating an environment that encouraged women to participate, we know we still have a long way to go to improve representation of women in the AI and programming industry as a whole.

It’s worth noting that this result did not happen by accident. We attribute these results to two initiatives we kicked off to ensure we were making it clear that the AI Sports Challenge invites and welcomes all developers. These were:

  1. In November, we partnered with UNSW Robogals to host an AI bot workshop. Robogals is student-run organisation that aims to inspire, engage and empower young women to consider studying engineering and related fields.
  2. An increasing number of women are also taking non-traditional pathways into software engineering. To this end, we partnered with General Assembly — a leading provider of digital skills training, to open up the AI Sports Challenge as a fun practise ground for those undergoing alternative study who might not have had the chance to participate in hackathons while at university.

robogals workshop

🎓 Professional and Educational Level

The AI Sports Challenge was open to developer of all levels:

survey result

Those earlier in their careers were definitely not to be underestimated: our top 3 teams were a mix of university students, professional engineers, and PhD students. 🎉

Within the university student category, we saw a mix across different study years. 68% were studying a computer science, software engineering or IT-related degree, while another 32% came from a variety of fields such as Data Science, Medicine, Psychology, Law, Commerce, and Business.

degree survey result

Within the professional (full-time employed) category, we saw a mix of responses skewed towards junior- and mid-level engineers:

experience survey result

The biggest representation of professionals came from data scientists (29%), followed by full stack engineers (19%) and IT professionals (17%).

💭 Closing thoughts

Thanks for reading this article! We had an extremely talented and engaged community join us for our first-ever AI Sports Challenge, which we attribute to having opened our event to developers of all levels with an interest in artificial intelligence.

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