College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

HackISU: 36 hours. One project. Hundreds of students.

36 hours. Hundreds of students. One project.

Every year, many students, especially students from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, attend one event in one place for 36 hours straight. This event is the HackISU hackathon, completely student-led. HackISU marked their 10th anniversary with this year’s hackathon.

In groups of four people or less, students code from 8 p.m. on Friday evening to 8 a.m. on Sunday morning in a research park at Iowa State University. Creating their own hacks, apps and software, the groups code all day and all night, getting little sleep and lots of caffeine.

But while the hackathon seems exhausting, students are still always excited for the event.

“It’s something fun to do,” said Taylor Burton, a junior in electrical engineering. “You spend a lot of time in classes going over theory and learning things, but it’s fun to actually see what you can apply in a short amount of time.”

Student groups can focus their projects on any topics they like, but they must finish it in 36 hours — beginning no earlier and ending no later.

Not only are students learning new languages and platforms, but networking is another positive aspect of attending HackISU. The event is sponsored by several large companies, like Rockwell Collins and John Deere.

HackISU is a strong resume builder as well. In 36 hours, a group of students create projects they can show to future employers. And with a free supply of food and caffeine, students can just focus on coding and creating their inventions.