What is Unhackathon?

When we first created Unhackathon, we wanted to make hackathons even more inclusive and fun! Our first order of business was making sure that everyone felt safe, had good food to eat, and time to sleep. We then moved onto improving awards, ensuring that they were based on values like technical ambition, thoughtful code, inspired design, and potential for improvements beyond the hackathon instead of nothing but “coolness.”

We hope to encourage attendees to learn new skills and technologies by making API resources, hardware, and interesting data sets available to everyone. We’ll also have everything you’ll need to be productive - many inspiring work spaces to fit your mood, energy drinks and healthy snacks and meals, and advice from the greatest mentors ever. Our mentors come from the best NYC tech companies and startups, and will be around the whole time to help you with everything from ideas to bugs.

We want our hackers to learn a ton in a short time within a welcoming environment. All Unhackathon participants are expected to abide by our Code of Conduct. We place great value on diversity of ideas and backgrounds. Are you eager to learn something new? We would love for you to join us.

Should I attend Unhackathon?

Absolutely! We want to see college students from every background and skill level. We will be judging applications primarily on thoughtfullness and enthusiasm, and not based on whether you’ve already written a C compiler in your spare time, made All-Star on Dribbble, or composed the music for an indie game. If you have done all these things, you’ll still learn something at Unhackathon.

Unhackathon 2016 is open to undergrads and, for the first time, high school students! You should be interested in building a technology-related project using coding, art, and hardware skills. You should not come to Unhackathon in search of others to do free work on your app idea, but if you’d like to give it a try coding it up yourself we’d be happy to help you out. You don’t need a team to attend; we’ll happily match you up with a team when you arrive. You are also welcome to work solo. If you’re feeling stuck, try a Springboard Project!

On the fence? Here are some facts from last year’s event:

  • Unhackathon was diverse - half of our hackers had never attended a hackathon before, and 20 percent were women. This year, the gender ratio so far is 50/50!
  • A number of attendees told us this was the "best" and/or "most welcoming" hackathon they've attended. Or that they learned more in a day at Unhackathon than they had in a semester of school!
  • One hacker arrived having never written a line of Python, but managed to achieve her goal of programming a simulation of a neuron. Another team created a game highlighting the hardships of being a single mother. All kinds of interdisciplinary hacks combined music, visual art, sports, and cognitive science with technology.

Our Goal: Go home feeling proud.

Hackathons are great for bringing people together. Thousands of students arrive at hackathons each year, ready to learn and build. But demos are often mostly spectator events. Somewhere between the opening ceremonies and the final crunch, hackers drop out because they run into a problem they can’t fix, they can’t come up with a workable project idea, or they just burn out. It’s our goal at Unhackathon to have every hacker demo if they want, and go home with a project they’re proud of - no matter how small it is. Our Springboard projects are a great way to start a project you can expand on even after the hackathon. If you’re on a team building something completely new, we’ve got your back. We’ll have plenty of expert mentors in the fields that you’re most interested in, and a special team to help you debug when crunch time gets close.

Stuck, solo, or in it to learn? Try a Springboard Project.

Springboard projects are an Unhackathon alternative to the traditional hackathon project. If you’re interested in learning a new skill or technology, choose from one of our projects designed to get you learning by building a real project. These aren’t tutorials like you’ve seen them online. Instead, you’ll work on a project for 3-4 hours that teaches you the basics of Arduino programming, natural language processing, or design, just to name a few, and then spring off in your own direction for the rest of the hacking. If you were stuck on a project idea before, you’ll be full of ideas by the time you’re ready to expand. You’ll be supported by mentors who are experts on your project, and encouraged by those around you working from the same springboard. This is a perfect opportunity if you’re new to coding or hackathons, or if you’re interested in working alone or in a pair.

My company is interested in sponsoring!

Great! Sponsoring Unhackathon is a great way to promote your product or developer API or to recruit for interns and new grad positions. You’ll show your commitment to diverse teams and real-world learning, while meeting some of the world’s brightest hackers. Send an email to sponsorship@unhackathon.org and we’ll be in touch shortly.

I have more questions!

We have answers! Be sure to check out the frequently asked questions page and then email us at team@unhackathon.orgif you still need help. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.