HacKPSU is a 24-hour Hackathon located in the heart of Pennsylvania at Penn State University. Home to hackers, designers, builders & makers, there is something for everyone in the Happy Valley. Come for one of over 25 incredible workshops ranging from machine to learning to beginners Python, the chance to network with top tech companies, or simply the opportunity to build something awesome. 


HackPSU is open to all persons above 18 years of age that are currenlly enrolled in College or University. You must bring a valid form of identification to be allowed into the event.  

Teams may be up to 5 people, and although being on a team is not required, it is strongly recommended.  

Hackathon Sponsors


$8,975 in prizes

HackPSU Overall - Tech (3)

The standard HackPSU experience - collaborate with team members to build something awesome. We'll have tons of great mentors and other staff around to help you on your way. Choose this track if you're passionate about technology and development.

* Grand Prize - $500 Amazon gift card
* Runner-up - $400 Amazon gift card
* Third prize - $300 Amazon gift card

Each prize amount is split amongst team members. (An amazon gift card will be sent to each member of the team).

HackPSU Overall - Design (2)

A new way to experience HackPSU - with designers front and center. Whether its graphic design, UX design, or UI design, this is the track for you. At the start of the event everyone will be provided a design prompt. Through mocks, use-flows, and wireframes we will be looking at how your design best addresses the prompt.

* Grand Prize - $500 Amazon gift card
* Runner-up - $250 Amazon gift card

Each prize amount is split amongst team members. (An amazon gift card will be sent to each member of the team).

HackPSU - IoT Workshop Challenge

Must attend the following workshops:
* Docker Workshop
* Kubernetes
* Hardware Prototyping workshop with Raspberry Pi's

The top IoT hack from a team which has attended the above workshops will win:
* $300 Amazon Gift Card, split amongst team members

Nittany AI Alliance - AI Challenge (3)

Develop an AI–based solution to a real-world problem at Penn State, either to improve the student experience or University operations.
* 1st Place - $99 Amazon Gift Card
* 2nd Place - $50 Amazon Gift Card
* 3rd Place - $25 Amazon Gift Card

Amazon gift cards will be sent to each team member.

GM - Autonomous RC Car Challenge

In this challenge, you are tasked with creating a system or feature to demonstrate and/or improve the utility of semi-autonomous or fully autonomous vehicles utilizing the RC car(s) that GM provides.

Capital One - Best Financial Hack

How will you reimagine banking?

Will be judged using standard HackPSU (tech) criteria. Project must be centered around finance or banking in some significant way.

* $250 Amazon gift cards for each team member

KCF - Hack the Waiting Room Challenge

Be it at the doctors, the movies, or a bar the average person spends about 6 months of their life waiting in a line. Our task is to take some of the guesswork out of waiting by keeping track of the number of people currently at a location and providing a user with information about the status of the room. This could mean showing the current number of people in the room, the maximum occupancy, how long the wait is to get in, announcements made by the owner, etc. This project will require creating a react interface for the administrator that would allow them to edit statistics about the room and post new events. It also requires a client interface for displaying information to those waiting outside. We have an Arduino starter kit with motion sensors if a team wants the additional challenge of using sensors to monitoring current occupancy automatically. See KCF at their table and attend their workshop for more information!
* $100 Amazon gift cards for each team member

Vanguard - Reducing Student Debt

The winning team for the Vanguard challenge will receive 4 Amazon Echo Dots worth a cash value of $200!

JPMC - Best Social Good Hack

See JPMC at their table for more info on how you will be judged. Project must be based on one of the following options:

Option A: Already have an idea of a social good project? Great! Hack on any social good topic that you’re passionate about.

Option B: The demand for computer science graduates will continue to grow in the US over the next five years, vastly outpacing the supply of Computer Science grads. Develop a simple web based game that helps introduce kids to computer science. The game must be something that can be experienced by a group of kids working together and must have a competitive element for them to compete in real time against other teams.

Option C: Think about how technology can be used to aid cities impacted by natural disasters with relief and recovery. You can build off of one of the existing ideas already in the disaster relief technology landscape or come up with new ideas that address gaps in this space. You can also consider one of the themes/questions below.

* Bose SoundLink Wireless Headphones for each team member

Booz Allen Hamilton - Best Machine Learning Hack

Will be judged using standard HackPSU (tech) criteria. Project must use machine learning in some significant way.

* Amazon Echo's for each team member (MAX 4 people)

Accuweather Challenge (3)

Use the AccuWeather API to build products that solve real world problems, or are simply a fun and interactive way to view the weather. Previous winners have included a snow globe that changed to reflect the current weather, smart hangers that recommend what to wear, and software that predicts driving conditions using weather APIs and road sensor data from other sponsors.

* 1st Prize - $500 Amazon gift card
* 2nd Prize - $250 Amazon gift card
* 3rd Prize - $100 Amazon gift card

Each prize amount is split amongst team members.

Best use of Authorize.net

LS20 Gaming Headsets for each team member

Best Social Good Hack from Fidelity Weekly Challenge

$50 Gift Cards from Fidelity for each team member

Snap Kit Weekly Challenge

Spectacles by Snapchat for each team member

Best use of Clarifai’s API Weekly Challenge

Hacker gear from Clarifai for each team member

Best use of HERE.com

Hacker gear and swag from HERE.com

Best Chat Bot using Botkit & Cisco Webex Teams

Power banks for each team member

Best IoT Hack Using a Qualcomm Device

410C Dragonboard for each team member

Best Domain Name from Domain.com

Raspberry Pi & PiHut Essential Kit for each team member

Best use of Google Cloud Platform

Google Home Minis for each team member

Best use of Algolia

Casio CA-506C-5A Calculator Watch for each team member

AWS Challenge

Members of the winning team will receive 4 Amazon Echo devices! The cash value of 4 Amazon Echo devices is $200

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


HackPSU Team

HackPSU Team

HackPSU Sponsors

HackPSU Sponsors
All companies hosting challenges

Benjamin Hanrahan, Ph.D

Benjamin Hanrahan, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Information Sciences and Technology

Jordan Back, Ph.D

Jordan Back, Ph.D
Assistant Research Professor of Information Sciences and Technology

Steven Haynes, Ph.D

Steven Haynes, Ph.D
Teaching Professor of Information Sciences and Technology

Joanne C. Peca, Ed.D.

Joanne C. Peca, Ed.D.
Chief Information Officer, Information Technology

Judging Criteria

  • HackPSU Overall - Tech Challenge
  • Creativity
    Is the solution novel, original and not-obvious? How different is the design from current solutions? Does it approach the problem from an unusual or different perspective? How creative is the problem statement?
  • Technical Skill
    Was the solution technically challenging (Taking into account team size and measured relative to competition)? How intricate was the solution? Did the solution pose a challenge to the group?
  • Implementation
    Was the solution effective in addressing the problem? Was the solution easy to operate for the target demographic? Is the solution needlessly complex? Overall, is the solution viable in addressing the problem statement?
  • Clarity
    Was the team able to convey their ideas in a way understandable to the audience? Were the topics accessible to the audience? Were all obscure acronyms or jargon explained?
  • Knowledge
    How effectively did the team handle questions? Did the team demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter?
  • HackPSU Overall - Design Challenge
  • Aesthetic Value
    Is the design attractive, pleasing to the eye? Does it follow established design practices (or break them where appropriate)?
  • Function
    Does the design successfully serve the function of the product? Was the user appropriately considered when designing interfaces and their function? It is accessible to all relevant users?
  • Use Flow
    Is using your design intuitive and clear? Do you adequately present how your interface/design/product would be used in a typical use case? Does it feel like you are 'fighting' the design?

Questions? Email the hackathon manager

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