Design Hacks 2016

Laura Zhang
Freetail Hackers
Published in
4 min readApr 11, 2016


On Saturday, March 26, 2016, Freetail Hackers hosted Design Hacks, our first small-scale 12-hour hackathon centered around creating logos, user interfaces, graphic design, games and other design-related products. Due to the intimate size of Design Hacks, we only accepted UT Austin students for this event.

Throughout the day, students worked on their projects with the help of mentors, who used their own experiences in design to facilitate the students’ project ideas. Our incredible mentors included Victoria O’Dell (Continuum Analytics), Joanne Kim Milnes (UT Austin), Cindy Friedman (sparklecreative), Molly Hitchings (Mathys+Potestio) and Chris Wiley.

We’d like to share a recap of our event, as well as what Freetail Hackers will bring you in the future, so read on!

Who came to Freetail Hackers’ Design Hacks?

One of Freetail’s core values is to welcome students who are passionate about technology into the hackathon community, regardless of major or technical background. We structure our attendance for events on a first-come, first-serve basis in order to achieve this inclusivity. Here’s a breakdown of the demographics:

Over 50% of our attendees were first-time hackathoners. Shout-out to our awesome outreach team! It’s a good feeling to know that our efforts are having an impact, and we are bringing more people into the hacker culture.

We all know about the gender disparity in STEM fields, so here is another well-appreciated stat: the gender ratio was about an even split.

And for the last stat, here’s a breakdown of our majors:

While our big turnouts came from computer science, electrical engineering and “other,” we drew out an impressive amount of students from other majors (shoutout to our business and biology hackers).

Now that we’ve gone over Design Hacks registrants, please take a look at our winners and their projects!


The top two teams were awarded a sweet 12-month subscription to Adobe’s Creative Cloud. All top three teams received automatic admission to HackTX 2016, Freetail Hacker’s pinnacle hackathon event in the fall that convenes students from all over Texas to build projects and explore new concepts using technology.

  • Third Place — simple web app to suggest healthier snack options given the time of day, activity level, mood, and cravings. This is based off of scientific studies that show that specific cravings are due to lack of specific nutrients that can be found in healthier options (e.g. craving chocolate is a sign of insufficient magnesium, which can be found in fruits and nuts).

Special Mentions

Freetail organizers spotted some projects that were not selected for the top three winners, but we thought that they deserved a little love. Take a look!

  • The newly released Superman vs. Batman movie inspired one of the finalist teams to create a website dedicated to the Justice League. If you hover over a superhero on the homepage, you’ll see the grey silhouette change design to a color rendition. Sure, it’s a little ironic that the Justice League website was made using the Marvel app, but irony is a beautiful thing.
  • We also encountered a simple and elegant solution called “Infinite Time.” This is based on the idea that time is circular, rather than linear, This project was designed for the Pebble Watch.

Thank you!

Huge thanks to our university, mentors, judges, workshop leaders, and dedicated organizers who made our Freetail Hackers’ first small-scale event so successful.

What’s Next?

No worries, Design Hacks was only the start of our events for this year. Here are some of Freetail’s future plans for 2016:

  • 30-Day Git Challenge: Starting Thursday, April 7th at 12:00pm, participants who keep up at least 1 commit a day until May 7th 12:00pm will win an awesome Freetail Hackers Git Challenge shirt!
  • HackTX 2016: Our annual large-scale 24-hour hackathon, which convened over 700 students from all around Texas in 2015, provides students with the resources and a collaborative environment to create innovative projects. Here is an overview for HackTX 2015.



Laura Zhang
Freetail Hackers