Recap of HackPSU


Rarely in life will you find yourself scouring Craigslist for a ride from a complete stranger, but last weekend HackPSU was a good enough reason for a group of brave hackers to set out on their adventure to State College. Before they knew it, they were crammed into the backseat, as their new friend Ricky indoctrinated them with his heavy metal collection.

And that, my friends, is what a true hacker is all about—creating a solution, often through unconventional means & limited resources. You’re not just hacking pixels and code together, you’re hacking through life. Maybe you’re hacking your way into a party or hacking yourself to stay more productive. Though people associate “hacking” with negative connotations relating to security, it’s really the opposite. Those at HackPSU aren’t hacking something apart, they’re hacking something together.

For 24 hours, students collaborated to build what they wanted to see in the world. In the week leading up to the hackathon, students got the opportunity to listen to the speakers of IST Startup Week. The week culminated with HackPSU so students had the chance to build out their ideas and apply the advice they had been receiving all week from the visiting entrepreneurs.

HackPSU had over 150 participants, making it Penn State’s largest hackathon yet. We had students representing schools including Michigan, Penn, MIT, Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and Kent State. When the judges gathered to decide on the winners, they each named off their top three favorites. Over half of those who demoed were listed as at least someone’s favorite hack, showing just how impressive the projects were.

Some of the hacks were among the funniest projects I’ve ever seen. I had a fun time explaining HackMyJizz to my parents who read about it on Tech Crunch. Though many of the projects were entertaining, there was one hack that had everyone mesmerized—Hologram.

Hologram took home the first place prize of an all expense paid trip to San Francisco, sponsored by ReadyForce. As you can see in the demo video, Hologram lets you take full 3D photos using just the camera on your phone. Ishaan Gulrajani, a freshman at MIT, and Zain Shah, a sophomore at Pitt, are the creators of Hologram. In explaining the functionality of Hologram, Ishaan said, “Basically Hologram takes two pictures: one without flash, and one with flash. Areas of the photo, which are dimmer without flash and brighter with flash, are closer, and areas of the photo, which aren’t affected by the flash, are farther away.”

You can check out some of the other hacks on hackerleague.

Our generous alumni are the ones who really made this event such a success. A huge thank you to David Rusenko, Matt Brezina and Todd Erdley.

Special thanks to our judges— Steve Huffman, David Rusenko, Matt Brezina, David Hua, Dan Veltri, Chris Fanini, Justin Kan, Rajiv Eranki, James Smits, Tikhon Bernstam, Lindsay Lindstrom and Rob Behe.

Lastly, this event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of our sponsors–Videon, ReadyForce, Microsoft, Weebly, Sincerely, IST Alumni Society and MessageMe.




  1. igul222 · · Reply

    Congrats on putting together a killer hackathon!

  2. Congrats Kathleen and team for another exceptional HackPSU event. Looking forward to what you all will do with the next one!

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