Winter Hack Day 2017

Bringing together the UCSD hacking community

Students getting started on their hack

The SD Hacks planning team aims to provide smaller hackathons for the local UC San Diego community. Last year, one 12 hour hack day was held in winter quarter which had around 80 attendees and 8 projects were submitted. This year, we made some changes to the winter hack day including:

  • Only admitting hackers in teams
  • Increasing the length of the hackathon to 24 hours
  • Bringing in an industry engineer and UCSD faculty member to judge

The event was held January 13th-14th and had 65 attendees with 7 projects submitted. Similar to last year, a workshop was held at the beginning of the hack day in order to help people get started on a project if they did not already have an idea.


The addition of UCSD professor Philip Guo and Portfolium engineer Adam Andrus as judges connected the students with engineers with experience in industry and academia. Their professional knowledge and experience meant that students were getting quality feedback including possible improvements and the presentation of their project.

The web development workshop which covered introductory HTML, CSS, Javascript, and NodeJS served around a third of the attendees and gave students a chance to create a foundation for their web application. Of the seven projects submitted, one was a team of four freshman students excited that they created a simple webpage and applied the new skills that they learned in the workshop.

SD Hacks organizer Vincent Liaw helping students at the web development workshop

Student Retention

A common problem for hackathons and an area to improve on is the retention of students for the duration of the event. One reason for requiring students to work in teams was to try and reduce this drop off. This helped a bit but the low turnout of mentors to assist with questions led to students leaving. Bringing in more mentors is a goal for next year’s hack days in addition to SD Hacks 2017 itself.

For Next Time

For next year’s hack day, the team will keep the 24 hour period since it gives students more time to develop a project as compared to 12 hours. Also, many of the planning steps and preparations made for this hack day can be used for next year’s hack day. One aspect that could be added is two beginner workshops at the start of the event rather than one or a beginner and advanced workshop to give more students the chance to learn new skills to use while hacking.

Let us know in the comments below if you have any suggestions for our next hack day!