Innovating Social Change

Calling 9-12 graders who are curious how to harness the power of today's technology or desire to make positive change in their world. Our annual 24-hour hack challenges students to use their computer science, social activism and interface design knowhow to create solutions to pressing problems in their lives. The Huskie Hack welcomes students of all skill levels to join; this hack highlights interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork.

  • Network with representatives from companies who hire coders.
  • Meet college students who study computer science and technology.
  • Compete for amazing prizes!

View full rules


$1,500 in prizes

Various merchandise prizes will be awarded! (10)

We've got a variety of great merchandise prizes worth more than $1500! Each member of the winning teams will get to select their own prizes from the prize collection, which includes iWatches, drones, Occulus headsets, wireless speakers, and other great tech! The ten number listed above is an estimate of the number of winners if we have 2 winning teams with 5 members each...

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


Current 9th-12th grade students who register and attend the event on site in DeKalb February 23-24th, 2019.

A Hackathon is an interactive activity or an “invention marathon”.  Anyone who has an interest in technology attends a hackathon to learn, build and share their creations over the course of a weekend in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. You don’t have to be a programmer and you certainly don’t have to plan to major in Computer Science in college. Hacks provide a venue to think out of the box, experiment with new technologies, ask questions, make mistakes, learn something new, and have fun.  

Do I have to be a programmer to participate? Or have computer coding skills?

The Huskie Hack is open to ALL 9th-12th grade students.   This event is interdisciplinary.  Individuals with interest in health and safety, big data, community development, social work, psychology, sociology,  biology, art, and engineering are all encouraged to attend. 

What if I am just a beginning programmer or don’t have any programming experience? Can I still be part of this event?

Yes. The Huskie Hack is not just about coding. It is about creating, utilizing skill sets you have as an artist, coder, maker, developer, project manager, historian, scientist, etc.  No expertise is required. While having a programming class or two will be helpful, it is not necessary. This event is about visualizing the idea, being enthusiastic about making it work, collaborating with the team and using the tools to help realize your repurposed, reimagined idea. Everyone will be learning, trying and doing. Graphic and artistic design, media, and team building skills will also be key to creating an awesome game. Want to play with wearable technology?  The Oculus Rift?  See a 3-D printer in action?  This is the time to experiment and have fun.

How much does it cost?

Just $25.  We will provide meals, drinks, and snacks for the entirety of the event. Registration is required. 

Why should I attend?

Meet and work with awesome people from around the region, build cool stuff to put on your portfolio and/or resume, network with tech firms, and enjoy free food, free swag, free fun! 

Can students from middle school or colleges/universities attend?

Unfortunately, no.  The format of this year's hack restricts registrations to 9th-12th grade students. 

 What else should I bring?

Bring your laptop, phone, chargers, and any other electronics you can’t live without. Feel free to bring a sleeping bag if you want to catch some zzz's, and, of course, your enthusiasm to address issues of health and wellness.  Remember, a valid student ID is required.

When should I show up and when should I leave?

Plan to arrive at the Hackathon Saturday morning, February 23rd 2019, at 11:00 AM, when registration opens. Have that student ID and ticket handy. The event ends somewhere around 12:00PM (noon) on Sunday, February 24th after the awards are distributed.

Where is the event held?  What are my transportation and parking options for the event?  

The event will be held at the center of NIU's camps in the Holmes Student Center.  Attendees are responsible for arranging their own transportation.   Parking on campus is free. 


All submissions must be uploaded to DEVPost by 9:30AM on Sunday, February 24th, 2019.

Please note that there is often a delay in uploading, so plan to begin your upload 15-minutes prior to the deadline.  Loading at 9:29AM may not allow your entry to process in a timely manner disqualifying you from the competition.  Planning for uploading issues is part of the learning process and competition.

Late submissions will NOT be reconsidered due to participant's lack of timing or issues in loading their project.  

How to enter

Register here.

Students will be organized into groups with mixed skill sets and interests: computer science, coding, interface design and social activism. Each student group will be assigned NIU student mentors to help guide their project. Experts and representatives from higher education and technology/computer science will be on hand to work with students throughout the 24 hours. At the end of the hack, prizes will be awarded to the best hacks of the day. There is a $25 fee that includes all food and workshops, as well as a Huskie Hack T-shirt!


Kate Powers

Kate Powers
Director, NIU Huskie Hack

Alan Clemens

Alan Clemens
Director, Illinois Interactive Report Cards

Kaisone Rush

Kaisone Rush
Computer Science Faculty, Northern Illinois University

Lima Chatterjee

Lima Chatterjee
Senior Database Architect, Illinois Interactive Report Cards

Judging Criteria

  • Technical Complexity
    Up to 25 points will be awarded based on the technical complexity of the project.
  • Innovation
    Up to 25 points will be awarded for the level of innovation represented by the project. Innovation could include innovation in the technical design or innovation in the idea or approach to the problem being addressed.
  • User experience
    Up to 20 points will be awarded based on the judges' assessment of the design of the user experience within the project.
  • Polish/execution
    Up to 20 points will be awarded based on the quality of execution of the developed system. Polished systems may also produce high quality user experiences, but this recognizes that this is not always the case.
  • Presentation/idea pitch
    Up to 10 points will be awarded to teams based on the quality of the presentation or pitch made while the project is introduced to the judges.