A hackathon celebrates “hacking” in its most positive context — using minimal resources and maximum brain power to create outside-the-box solutions (“hacks”). Our hackathons utilize the skills of students from all the degrees, majors, and programs to form diverse teams and create solutions, products, or services in a constrained amount of time.

Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 Hackathons:

Cornell Animal health Hackathon

Animal Health

 February 19-21, 2021

Hackathon RX

Health

Watch the 2020 Video
2021 Date TBD

Cornell University Digital Agriculture Hackathon

Digital Ag

March 5-7, 2021

Sustainability Hackathon

Sustainability

October 16-18, 2020

Participants

Participants generally fall into one of the following categories:

Newbie: wants to see what all the hype is about, may not code or even be in a technical major, may feel apprehensive- not knowing what to expect, or just really likes to try new things, curious

Focused First Timer: has heard of a hackathon and understands the immense opportunity, may have an idea for a business/startup/product and plans to utilize the hackathon to create an MVP and get feedback, entrepreneurial minded and looking for potential cofounders or a startup to join amongst the attendees

Repeat: did one, loved it, comes back for more. Likes the way it expanded their skill set, exposed them to new people and ideas, plus they’re interested in a job or internship at one of the sponsoring companies

Veteran: participates in every possible hackathon, win/lose doesn’t matter because the skills, friendships and connections made are life changing, and really it’s just so much fun

Different hackathons attract different demographics of participants. The health hack attracts the most MDs, Animal Health attracts the largest numbers of DVMs, over all we are proud of the diversity and breadth of experience in our participants.

We average ~50% participation from women and have seen increasing numbers of under-represented minorities.

Sponsors

The hackathons are made possible by the support of our sponsors. A range of sponsor tiers exist, with increasing perks and benefits at each level. By opening the hackathons to sponsors, our intent is to provide increased opportunity for the students and meaningful engagement for the sponsors.

For more information or to become a sponsor, contact Ami Stuart at ams345@cornell.edu.

Format

Our hackathons start Friday late afternoon/early evening, we kick-off typically with a keynote, presenting of the challenges/topic or theme for the weekend, an overview of the resources and schedule. Just before dinner, students line up to pitch problem based ideas (in 90 seconds) this is to help draw the interest of students in the audience to join them. Over the dinner break teams form organically with a minimum team size being 4 and maximum team size being 6.  After dinner teams gather for a Design Thinking Workshop.

The Design Thinking Workshop is to help teams form ground rules, define roles, and determine an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), honed into an MDP (Minimal Desirable Product) that they can feasibly create over the weekend. Empathy maps, user research, customer discovery, impact, and more are all touched on.

Teams work in self assigned physical spaces in the venue. Periodic check-ins, called PiNGs are scheduled in which one member of each team must report in their teams Progress, Needs, & Goals. This verbal report is given in front of an audience of mentors who then visit the teams’ workspaces to provide feedback.

Check-ins happen twice on saturday, with mentors visiting teams for up to 90 minutes post check-in. Outside of this formal mentoring time, students approach mentors for additional assistance.

Mentors
Mentors are provided by sponsoring companies and also include faculty and staff at Cornell. The background of the mentors is representative of the varied perspectives of participants. Mentors come from technical, business, product, marketing roles and more. Please watch these videosto see what mentors have to say about their hackathon experience.

Demo Day
The event culminates with demos on sunday. Student teams pitch/present their projects to a panel of judges and are awarded cash prizes. Presentations are typically 4 minutes long with 4 minutes of Q&A.

Hackathon News and Case Studies