Whether you’re a coding newbie hoping to pick up some knowledge, or a seasoned, Bay Area tech professional looking to exercise your skill set, there’s no better place than a hackathon to unite over a shared love of tech. For those unfamiliar, a hackathon is an event where participants of varying experience levels and tech disciplines gather to generate ideas and create a product. In the spirit of competition, participants bring sleeping bags to camp overnight and chow down on pizza in spare minutes between coding, and all for good reason: those who achieve particularly notable results are often rewarded with cash prizes or other forms of recognition.
More than a simple opportunity for STEM innovators to play with ideas, hackathons have also been the birthplace of major companies like GroupMe and Nitobi. A hackathon can be a tremendous center for growth, providing opportunities for participants to network with potential mentors and representatives from big companies. Take a look at these seven hackathons in the Bay Area that are bringing a sporting experience to the process of solving some of the world’s big challenges.
Top Hackathons in the Bay Area
- Superposition IV
- Mission Bit
- Tri Valley Youth Expo
Overview: With other events happening in over 50 cities nationally, CodeDay is a hackathon hosted by SRND that is designed so that students, musicians, actors and anyone with tech interests can build online games or apps. Open to anyone from high school up to age 25, CodeDay provides educational opportunities for those newer to coding, with the goal of closing the tech opportunity gap and diversifying the STEM field. CodeDay’s hackathon events are sponsored by Digi-Key, State Farm, Lexis Nexis Solutions and others.
Location: The East Cut
Overview: Open to any experience level ranging from career engineers to coding beginners, DevNetwork’s hackathon, DeveloperWeek, is a free hacking event where participants can work on web/mobile apps, algorithms, data visualizations or visual mock-ups from a variety of sponsored technologies. DeveloperWeek helps tech professionals design frameworks for potential future projects, and offers cash prizes to winners in multiple categories.
Overview: Starfish hosts a hackathon called Climate Hack, which seeks to empower people to brainstorm solutions for the complex issue of climate change. With a mission to connect communities with various skill sets around shared goals and values, Climate Hack is a free event open both to tech professionals and those completely new to coding. Hackers in attendance will work together to address five core challenge areas that include agriculture, waste, energy, climate finance and real estate.
Overview: Superposition IV is the oldest hackathon specifically catering to young women in STEM, with programming that seeks to empower women to pursue and explore their tech ideas in a supportive and safe environment. Attendees can work in teams of four to develop a project and present it to a panel of judges with the potential to win prizes. Additionally, Superposition IV is open to nonbinary people and is a trans-inclusive event.
Location: Mission Bay
Overview: There is major stigma and lack of awareness globally when it comes to mental illness, but HackMentalHealth hopes that the hackathon they host will help foster collaboration and brainstorming among innovators looking to develop tech-based mental health support solutions. Projecting an attendance of over 1,000, HackMentalHealth connects hackers with healthtech professionals and companies with whom they can share and develop their ideas for better mental healthcare through technology.
Overview: Mission Bit hosts a 24 hour hackathon called Hack The Fog, during which attendants split into teams of four to create any kind of project ranging from HTML web design to artistic hardware. They open opportunities for students to not only create their own devised projects, but also connect with tech professionals and representatives from companies. Hack The Fog is only open to attendees of high school and middle school age.
Location: Dublin, Greater San Francisco Bay Area
Overview: Expo Hacks is a hackathon event hosted by the Tri Valley Youth Expo that provides education and awards for projects in the three categories of health, business and education. In teams of four, attendants can collaborate on innovative projects and attend hacking workshops designed to guide people within all experience levels.