MakeUC Hackathon 2023 invites college, high school student tech innovators

Tri State's best young minds to gather at 1819 Innovation Hub for 24-hour blitz and $20K in prizes

Innovators, assemble!

In a collision of digital and mechanical genius, college and high school students will convene at the University of Cincinnati's 1819 Innovation Hub for the fourth annual MakeUC Hackathon, hosted by IEEE at UC, Nov. 4-5.

This year, it will be a turbo-charged, hybrid adventure — with both in-person and virtual options — featuring interdisciplinary and diverse teams comprised of coding wizards, engineers, design virtuosos and the like.

The innovation revolution

The in-person option is open to all UC students. The virtual option is available for high school or college students outside the university.

"Every student, everywhere, can dive headfirst into this epic event," said Katy Hildebrandt, director of the 2023 MakeUC Hackathon and UC fourth-year electrical engineering student. "No matter your major, grade or experience level, we invite you to join the innovation revolution."

MakeUC has four themed tracks to get students’ creative juices flowing: green tech, education, social issues and security, along with an open themed field.

Participants will be eligible for more than $20,000 in prizes, including cash, gift cards, Apple swag, Nintendo Switches, Ausu monitor, Meta Quest 2, Lofitech keyboard, AirPod, mini fridge, Fijifilm instant film cameras and more.

Launchpad into the hacker universe

Hildebrandt called the hackathons “the perfect launchpad into the hacker universe,” adding, “You don’t need to be a coding savant. Participants get a wild 24-hour ride to assemble teams, hatch projects and vie for glory. Everything goes, from software to hardware."

Over the first three years, MakeUC evolved from a modest online affair with 40 students in 2020 to a hybrid in-person/online extravaganza in 2022 at the Carl H. Lindner College of Business. Last year’s hackathon drew over 200 contestants and a cavalcade of sponsors, which organizers hope to top this year.

"The real game-changer this year is the venue," Hildebrandt said. "Hackers get to unleash their genius in the 1819 Innovation Hub, complete with plush corporate partner spaces and the state-of-the-art Esports Innovation Lab, where they can churn out video and digital marvels.”

Teams also will have access to 1819's Makerspace, a 12,000-square foot prototyping and fabrication facility featuring 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and a woodshop.
“Best part? Hackers walk away with all the materials they use, on the house," Hildebrandt said.

Employer connections

1819 corporate partners Fifth Third Bank, Great American Heritage Group, Kao, Microsoft and CincyTech will collectively serve as sponsors, mentors and judges for this year’s event.

“Hackers get the chance to rub elbows with sponsor reps during a sponsor expo at the event, kind of like a laid-back career fair. This is a golden opportunity for students to step up and snag co-op gigs or full-time offers,” Hildebrandt said.

Seasoned students may volunteer as mentors, answering hackers’ technical questions. UC faculty and staff and community members are invited to serve as mentors or judges, dishing out wisdom and feedback to squads, ensuring everyone gets the kudos they deserve.

Registration details

Featured image at top: Participants in the 2022 MakeUC Hackathon show off products created and assembled in Makerspace. Photo/Katy Hildebrandt

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