UC’s hacker community prepares for annual MakeUC hackathon | Features | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker

UC’s annual global hackathon, MakeUC, returns to campus from Nov. 4 through 5 at 1819 Innovation Hub.

The hacker community is full of individuals who enjoy software, hardware and any sort of hacking technology. MakeUC is an annual, global event in which any University of Cincinnati (UC) student can get in touch with the hacking community and explore their inner hacker. 

MakeUC started a few years back as a small hackathon with just a handful of UC hackers. A hackathon is a time for people to gather and create technical projects within a time limit. Any UC students interested in hacking and computer technology can participate, no matter their major. 

In 2020, UC saw the potential for this program and decided to turn it into a global hackathon. The first global hackathon, however, went on virtually due to COVID-19. The next one in 2021 was done in a virtual format as well, with limited in-person activities. 2022 was the first year the hackathon went on completely normally, with in-person hacking and virtual options. 

RevolutionUC had already been a huge yearly hackathon held at UC, so the organization helped MakeUC get started. 

“We host several workshops per month, starting in the summer all the way up to MakeUC,” explained Katy Hildebrant, MakeUC director and electrical engineering student. “These workshops aim to teach students useful skills, introduce them to important topics or help get their creative juices flowing. Examples of workshops we held this year include an introduction to APIs hosted by Postman, introduction to web development and introduction to open-source chip design.” 

Participating students spend months preparing through workshops provided by the board. During the hackathon, students get 24 hours to form teams, create their project and compete for the prizes. Specific prizes are typically offered for certain project topics, provided by sponsors of the event. Students also compete for the top three projects of the four tracks and the top three projects overall. Judges are UC faculty and staff with technical backgrounds who volunteer for the event. 

This year, the hackathon will take place at the 1819 Innovation Hub. “The 1819 Innovation Hub provides unique resources that previous events did not, such as a world-class makerspace and an exciting Esports Lab,” Hildebrant said. “Hackers will have the opportunity to use the equipment at the makerspace for their projects, which includes 3D printers, laser cutters, CNC machines and a woodshop. Hackers also get to keep whatever materials, such as electronics or expendables, they use in their projects free of charge.”

The 2023 MakeUC hackathon takes place on Nov. 4-5. Sponsors of the event include Elevance Health, Fifth Third Bank, Balsalmiq and many more companies. 

“MakeUC has grown significantly since it was first started,” said Greg Muha, MakeUC student worker and electrical engineering student. “In 2019, there were only around 40 students and a handful of sponsoring companies located in a single classroom. Now we have grown to occupy the 1819 Innovation Hub, and last year’s event had over 200 students and over two dozen sponsors.”


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