Join Yahoo! web experts for a week of learning, hacking and fun! You’ll hear interesting tech talks, hacking tips and lessons, and get hands-on coding workshops where you’ll work with cutting-edge technology.

The week’s events will culminate with our University Hack Day competition—a day-long festival of coding, camaraderie, demos, awards, food, music and jollity (it’s a real word, look it up). It’s not about perfect code, just your creativity, a cool idea and a working prototype. You’ll have access to tons of APIs and tools in the Yahoo! Developer Network (check out YQL, the YUI Library, SearchMonkey and BOSS just to name a few).

No rules or limitations - just show up and hack for your opportunity to win cool prizes, a spot in the gallery, street cred and the chance to represent your school at the University Hack Showdown in California. This is your shot to develop something that will revolutionize the industry, make the world a better place or at least make the judges laugh (trust us, that goes a long way!). See you there!

How do I get involved?

Come by the kickoff event on your campus to learn more about the competition and get the pertinent details. Or register now if you are already know the ropes and have a good grasp on the open APIs and hacking protocol. Remember there are no limitations and you can use all open technology to build your app although we must admit that some of the judges have a soft spot for Yahoo stuff. Oh and of course you own the IP to anything you create so this is your shot to build that killer app that may just be the next big thing. Go for it.

2009 Talk Slides

How to Succeed at Hack U

We've been doing open Hack days since late 2005; here are random notes and observations that might help, starting with some of the key differences between what we've done in the past and what we're doing with University Hack Days:

  • You've got the better part of a week and not just 24 hours to build something.
  • You're not restricted to using Yahoo! APIs and services, although (hint) the judges would really, really love it. For inspiration, please visit the Apps Gallery, the Widget Gallery, and the Yahoo! Developer Network, which you're looking at right now.
  • Sorry, Beck's not going to show up. There will, however, be food, drink, schwag, and entertainment suited to the occasion, which is code for "you will be pleasantly surprised."

Rule One: Show The Hack First!

You'll have a limited time (90 seconds or so- maybe a bit longer) to present. Here's what you need to show in that time:

  • The problem your hack solves.
  • That it actually does solve the problem, right then and there.
  • If there's time, how your hack works.

One of the most common Fatal Errors we see at University Hack Day presentations is that our hackers, having spent the last 24 to 36 hours getting their hack to work, want to cover Item Three first. (They've suffered for their art ... now it's our turn.)

Please, whatever you do, don't do this. Say the problem, show the solution, and then talk about how you solved it, if there's still time.

If You're Showing A Web App, Please Present On Our Equipment

There will be at least two available Windows laptops and two open monitor connections, with Mac adapters if needed.. For best results, you'll sit down in front of one of our laptops, open a fresh Firefox window, and demo your hack from a public Web host.

If you need to present on your own hardware, please try to find some time to test on the projector. 1024x768 is normally the resolution you will want.

The best demonstrations are the easiest to set up. If yours is on a public host somewhere and not on your university's private network, chances are better that you won't run into network trouble.

There's also a big chunk of street cred assigned to hacks that are available for the audience to actually play with, right then and there. Watching the demo is fine, but what your audience really wants is to poke at it themselves and see that it really works.

If You're Showing a Widget or Other Installed Software, Please Use Your Own Laptop

Sorry, there won't be time to install anything, even as tiny as a widget, on one of our machines. And we won't want to run the risk of breaking one, which would not be fair to the rest of the hackers.

Be Online, Signed In, and Ready To Go

If you're demonstrating a hack that requires the user to be signed in to a particular network or service, be signed in before your turn begins. You'll have three-five minutes at a minimum to accomplish this before you get the microphone. (Bonus: you'll eliminate the chance of getting nervous and entering your password in the login box in front of a large audience, which has happened several times in our memory....)

If You Need Something Special, Let Us Know Early

By "special," we mean "anything that can't be shown on a laptop." Going to show something on a cellphone, or other monitor that won't plug into a projector? Need audio? A close-up shot on your Nabaztag or Chumby? We'd love to help ... please let us know early!

Practice! Practice! Practice!

Actually do your demo for your team. If you're alone, pick some random people and do it for them. Answer their questions, think about what they mean, and then rewrite the demo if needed. It just might turn out that the hack you thought you made wasn't really the hack that the audience saw.

The legal thing

If you want to know mystical mumbo-jumbo that allows us to give you cool prizes, you can check out the official rules of the contest.

Have Fun!

Remember, you're not just showing a hack: you're showing yourself, and (yes!) recruiters will be there, watching how you do in the spotlight. Be offbeat. Show your style. Let your freak flag fly, if you've got one. Most of all, engage your audience with your sense of humor and the clear perception that you are thrilled to be up there showing your stuff. Enjoy yourself; it really makes a difference!

Ready to Rock?


  • Overview

    What is this Hack... Day? Competition overview, special categories and prize info

  • Pictures and Video

    Upload and view photos from your university's Hack Day and check out special videos

  • Past Hack Days

    Back to the future! Check out HackU from days of yore

  • Rules

    Rules were made to be broken, except for these ones.

  • Contact

    Questions? Comments? How's our driving?