FCHacks is a hackathon for high schoolers in the Pittsburgh region. A hackathon is a competition during which students who are interested in exploring computer science or engineering team up and build cool projects (apps, games, robots, or whatever they're excited about). FCHacks is open to students with a variety of skill levels—no prior knowledge or experience needed. All participants will have access to mentors and materials, and will have a chance to pitch to sponsors and judges and win prizes; beginners will also be provided with computers, workshops, and special prizes.
FCHacks is a 12-hour hackathon, from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM, on Saturday, March 25, 2017. You can find a more detailed schedule below. We'll have an opening speaker, around 10 hours of dedicated time for students to work on their projects (and eat—lunch and snacks are provided!), and a science-fair style expo presentation, award ceremony, and closing speaker at the end of the event.
FCHacks will take place at Fox Chapel Area High School, about 20 minutes outside of the City of Pittsburgh.
During a hackathon, participants ("hackers") work in teams of up to 4 to build projects ("hacks") from scratch. These projects can be pretty much anything—apps, games, robots, websites, or anything else you can dream up!
There are very few limits on what you can build, but here are some examples of what people have made at other hackathons. Keep in mind that almost all of these projects were created by college students during longer events (typically 36 hours)—your projects at FCHacks do not have to be this elaborate!
In this context, "hacking" means quickly and cleverly building a piece of hardware or software from scratch. This is completely different from illegal hacking, which involves gaining unauthorized access to a computer system.
Not at all! You're welcome to start brainstorming or forming a team ahead of time, but this is certainly not required—we'll have dedicated time at the event for you to find a team and come up with an idea.
We'll have several prizes at the event, including overall prizes (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and prizes for hacks in specific areas. We'll also have a special prize specifically for beginners.
FCHacks is open to all high school students. If you're younger, email us and we'll see what we can do. If you're older, please consider registering as a mentor or volunteer instead.
Absolutely nothing! FCHacks is completely free to attend, and, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, we'll also have lunch and snacks provided throughout the day, as well as materials for you to work with.
We'll have mentors available to help you with various aspects of your project, like iPhone app development or circuit design, as well as optional workshops centered around specific topics, like pitching your project to the judges. We'll also have materials for hardware hackers (think Arduino boards, 3D printers, and soldering irons) and extra resources for beginners (see → for details).
No problem! One of our main goals is to provide an opportunity for students with little exposure to computer science to see how fun and powerful it can be. If you're a beginner, we'll have intensive introductory workshops teaching you how to code something from scratch, and we'll even provide you with a laptop pre-loaded with the tools you need. We'll also award a special "Best Beginner Project" prize at the end of the event.
All you need to bring is a student ID, a laptop (if you don't have one, let us know and we'll see what we can do), physical materials (if you think you'll need them for a hardware hack), and an open mind!
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we promise we'll get back to you soon!
|7:30am||Registration||Enter through Athletics entrance (near the parking lot and Fox statue). Bring student ID if you have one.|
|7:30am||Breakfast||Bagels and pastries catered by Market District.|
|7:45am||Introduction, opening speaker, kickoff||Our opening speaker will be Dave Mawhinney, a serial entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and CMU professor. We hope you're as excited for his talk as we are!|
|8:15am to 9:15am||Brainstorming and team formation||(Optional)|
|8:15am to 10:15am||Beginner workshop||(Optional) Don't worry if you don't know how to code! We'll teach you hardware and software basics using the Hummingbird Robotics Kit. After the workshop, you can team up with other beginners to create a project from scratch, and we'll have mentors available throughout the entire day to guide you along.|
|9:15am to 10:15am||Introduction to 3D Printing workshop||(Optional) We'll teach you how to design and print physical parts using a MakerBot 3D printer. After the workshop, you can print parts you need for your hacks throughout the day.|
|10:15am to 11:15am||Introduction to Electronics workshop||(Optional) We'll teach you how to make physical devices that interact with the world using the Arduino Uno microcontroller.|
|10:15am to 11:15am||Introduction to Machine Learning workshop||(Optional) We'll teach you how to build machine learning and artificial intelligence software to diagnose diseases. These powerful tools might be useful for your hacks!|
|Noon to 1:00pm||Lunch!||Catered by Market District. Vegetarian options available.|
|1:00pm to 2:00pm||Introduction to App Development workshop||(Optional) We'll teach you how to create Android apps with Java. If you've taken (or are currently taking) AP Computer Science, this is a great way to practically apply your Java programming knowledge!|
|4:30pm to 5:15pm||Pitch Development workshop||(Optional) You'll work with business professors and entrepreneurs to craft the perfect pitch for your project. These skills will be useful over the next couple hours!|
|5:15pm to 6:00pm||Expo||Teams will set up demos for judges, who will walk around and pick the top 5 projects as well as winners of several special awards (Best Beginner Hack, Most Entrepreneurial Hack, Best Hardware Hack, Best Web Hack, etc.).|
|6:00pm to 6:30pm||Dinner!||Pizza from Vocelli's. Plain, pepperoni, and veggie available.|
|6:30pm to 7:30pm||Final ceremony (open to the public)||Top 5 teams will pitch their projects on stage to final judging panel. Then, awards and closing speaker. Our closing speaker will be serial entrepreneur Ron Bianchini—we're super excited for his talk!|