After a certain number of years in the industry, seasoned tech professionals can feel like their knowledge and skills are second nature. However, we all had to start somewhere, and for high school and college students just gaining solid footing, leveraging software or engineering skills to make their dreams a reality feels anything but innate. One of the best ways to overcome uncertainty or trepidation is to jump headfirst into the unknown, and hackathons provide a supportive environment to do just that.
Berkeley has long been known for its creative spirit, innovative thinking, and passion for social change. With UC Berkeley at its epicenter, it’s no surprise that this city has become home to some of the most exciting and challenging hackathons in the country. During these high intensity, 24-hour events, students from across Silicon Valley and beyond can find mentorship, gain skills, build their tech community, and maybe even start their own companies. Whatever the challenges may be, these three hackathons have their sights set on fostering the next wave of great tech in Berkeley.
Berkeley Hackathons You Should Know
- Cal Hacks
- XR At Berkeley
- Berkeley ANova
Overview: Cal Hacks is a nonprofit organization focused on enriching the lives of students through tech and entrepreneurship. Among the many events they host in the name of fostering youth engagement in STEM, Cal Hacks puts on the world's largest college hackathon where attendees can collaborate on software, engineering, and other tech related projects. With past attendees hailing from over five countries, Cal Hacks organizes students into teams of four so that groups can create their dream projects and compete with other teams for various prizes. Cal Hacks seeks to proactively support student tech innovation, offering fellowships to hackathon teams that want to continue to develop their ideas even after the event comes to a close.
Location: UC Berkeley Campus
Overview: Sponsored by companies like Facebook and Oculus, Sodahacks is a hackathon hosted by XR At Berkeley and open to all UC Berkeley students. The event is designed to not only offer space to work on tech projects without distractions, but to also provide ample opportunities for professional networking, mentorship from guest speakers, and educational workshops. Held over an 18-hour period, contestants work together to create tech-based solutions in response to a variety of thematic issues. Past workshops have addressed everything from virtual reality building to understanding cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.
Location: Downtown Berkeley
Overview: Finding one's footing in the tech world, especially as a beginner, can be intimidating. Because of this, Berkeley ANova hosts a free, 24-hour hackathon focused on helping students from underprivileged backgrounds get involved in and excited about tech, offering both opportunities to collaborate with peers and to learn from mentors about core issues facing the tech industry. ANova Hacks seeks to lend support to all students in attendance and to meet all attendees where they are at, regardless of their background or comfort level with tech knowledge.