Cal Hacks rolls out new programs for upcoming hackathon Cal Hacks 4.0

Cal Hacks has been able to establish itself as the biggest hackathon on the West Coast, garnering over 1500 hackers for the past three years. We brought students from around the world together to build innovative and impactful projects, even breaking the record for the largest collegiate hackathon in 2015. Up until this fall 2016, our main mission has been refining the hacker experience.

Now, our mission is to make sure this experience is accessible to everyone.

Our goal now is to branch out and establish a stronger connection to the University of California, Berkeley and its students. We plan to move forward with three new programs that tackle three different areas we knew we needed improvement:

  1. Beginner: Cubstart
  2. Experienced: Cal Hacks Fellowship
  3. Veteran: Continuation Projects

Let us know your thoughts about each of these programs and what you would want to see in this upcoming year!

Beginner — CubStart:

Applying for your first hackathon is intimidating, and experiencing it is even moreso.

That’s why Cal Hacks is introducing CubStart, a beginner hacker program to make hackathons less intimidating and more accessible to everyone. We’re providing a mentorship program for team building, ideation, and basic hackathon skills, enhancing the hackathon experience with pre-hackathon programs including:

  • One-on-one mentoring
  • Exclusive beginner workshops
  • Team mixer and diversity panel

We highly encourage everyone, especially those with little CS experience, to try out CubStart and get involved. The next great idea at Cal Hacks probably won’t come from the “elite computer scientist” — it’ll come from the fresh and diverse minds of individuals who innovate new solutions to hidden problems, and we’re inviting you to come create with us.

Experienced— The Cal Hacks Fellowship:

Why do you have to stop when the hackathon is over? We’re introducing the Cal Hacks Fellowship, a program that accepts 5 hackathon teams to continue their projects beyond the hackathon. We plan to continue improving your project and move it past its initial stage so you can continue adding onto it, while receiving the same support from a hackathon. This includes:

  • One-on-one director mentorship
  • Work with industry professionals and venture capitalists
  • Receive support from The House Founders program
  • Gain access to future hack nights and unlimited amount of free resources

We recommend all hackers to apply for our fellowship program so we can help take your project to the next level. Who knows, it could become the next big startup!

Veteran — Continuation Projects:

We’ve noticed two trends with hackers and hackathons. You either come to a hackathon with a new project in mind, or you don’t apply because you just want a space to continue working on an existing project.

This year, we want to allow any experienced hackers come to 4.0 and work on their existing project. For many hackers, there’s a greater value in building new features for an existing project, other than just creating a new idea. 36 hours may be good enough to build something cool from scratch, but it’s also enough time to move a project from good to great.

This program is to extend our previous goal of refining the hacker experience. We want to encourage hackers to work on whatever matters to them, even if it’s a project that they’ve been working on the side.

  • Separate award category and judging criteria
  • Bigger prize pool and competition goals
  • Specified mentorship requests during the hackathon

Talk to a director about your continuation project idea and we’ll let you know how the judging system will work for you!


We are so happy to be able to move forward with these programs this year and can’t wait to see what the turnout is this Oct. 6 — Oct. 8, 2017. We plan to open up the CubStart program and Cal Hacks Fellowship program throughout the rest of the year after the hackathon, so be sure to stay updated with our social media and our Medium to find out more.

Until then, keep building and innovating your ideas. Go Bears!

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