Hack to the Past: Recapping HackMIT 2017

HackMIT Stories
Published in
4 min readJun 8, 2018


After months of hard work, the HackMIT team is proud to have wrapped up HackMIT 2017. Time and time again, we have been impressed with the scale of creativity and ingenuity seen at our event. This year was no exception. Over one thousand hackers came and conquered this year’s theme: Hack to the Future.

Throughout the event, I was able to talk to hackers and hear about their cutting-edge ideas. I am impressed by how quickly teams formed and dreamed up out-of-this-world solutions to a wide range of problems. Here are some that stood out to me!

1. BeatRoot: Users generate a song, series of screens make noises and create a beat, track hand motion to construct different instruments and songs. Team: David Branse, Marko Fejzo (Brown), Varun Gadh, Nitesh Sridhar (CMU)

2. Polarizing: Combatting online harassment of journalists by analyzing web articles for aggressive language and creating a visualization of it. Team: Zachary Liu, Evan Wildenhain, Roland Fong, Yanjun Yang (Princeton)

3. A Web app that manages social events for gamers all on one page. Team: Rodrigo Carrillo-Sanchez, Pablo Villalobos, Hector Castillo (MIT)

4. A music recommendation program that is based on environmental sensors (temperature, light, time of day, etc.) Team: Omid Rooholfada, Valerie Chen, Yichao Cheng, Amanda Hansen (Yale)

Day Of

We started the event with check-in, a hectic event where hackers got cool badges, even cooler sweaters,

and the coolest, swaggiest swag bags.

This year, hackers also got red or blue glow-sticks to denote their team for the faction cup (think Harry Potter triwizard tournament). Hackers won points for their faction by attending tech talks, fireside chats, workshops, and mini-battles (lightsaber fight, anyone?). The winning faction went home with extra swag!

It was the first time we had something like this, but the faction cup was a huge success! Hackers met so many more people they wouldn’t have otherwise. It was also really fun for our team, because we got to know so many more hackers through the mini-games and events.

We took a breather and went on this beautiful midnight excursion around Boston!

Talks, Workshops, and Chats

Some of our amazing sponsors hosted tech talks as well! Representatives from Baidu, Microsoft, a16z, Disney, Google, IBM, and Amadeus came to HackMIT to speak about a number of topics, ranging from computer graphics to a Firebase tutorial. Workshops followed each tech talk and provided hands-on introductions to deep learning, quantum computing, TypeScript and more. Hackers, especially first-timers, gained a lot from these workshops and were able to apply these techniques to their projects. Limor Fried, Poulomi Damany, and John Whaley hosted fireside chats, where speakers and hackers could engage frankly in a smaller setting.

We were honored to host Datto CEO Austin McChord, Narvar CTO Maria Latushkin, and Quora & expo.io co-founder Charlie Cheever as a part of our Q&A panel! The three shared their experiences at their respective companies and why they decided to pursue entrepreneurial paths. The atmosphere in the room was electric. Our panelists were so open and honest about their experiences that we couldn’t help but to hang on their every word. After the panel was over, a huge crowd stayed behind to talk to them more.

We are so proud to have put on HackMIT this past year. The caliber of hacks reached an all-time high. The talks and the faction cup captured hackers’ minds and hearts. We want to extend a huge thank you to our amazing speakers and to you. You, the hackers, are what keeps our event alive and going. We are so inspired by what you create, and we can’t wait to show you what’s in store for 2018!

Send your crazy ideas to team@hackmit.org. Registration opens on July 1st. :)