Mudd Hacks: The Maddness Continues

This year marks the fourth year of MuddHacks, Mudd’s annual hardware hackathon. MuddHacks differs the majority of other Hackathons in that it is focused on hardware rather than software so teams are judged on the final physical product they create.

Two students soldering in the outdoor classroom, in the dark

Students solder in the dark of night.

Every year teams of 3-5 students work together to design, build, and program something interesting and often useful. Some notable projects in past years include a microwave that plays a YouTube video for the duration of the microwaving time, motorized skateboards, and a giant tesla coil. And this year was no different–over 12 food filled, sleep deprived hours students collaborated to build color changing skateboards, removable roller blades, an automatic ukulele tuner, and much more.

Non-hackathoners might wonder why students would ever abandon their quality sleep time to engage in more work, but I think most participants find hackathons to be an incredibly fun and fulfilling experience where they finally have a time, place, and reason to build something they might have been longing to work on for a while. It’s also a great opportunity for students to step outside their comfort zone and learn how to use tools and materials they might not normally get the chance to use in their classes.

A prototype made with two breadboards

Some prototyping on breadboards.

So granted, the idea of pulling an all nighter just for fun is also alluring for some, but for others who value a good night’s rest, it’s definitely possible to stay for only a portion of the hackathon. Some students end up using a tag-team strategy where half of the team will sleep early and come back later in the night to relieve the other half of the team that had stayed up until that point. Students can also choose to work on a smaller project which won’t require the full 12 hours to complete. The whole goal of this hackathon is to give students the opportunity to work on something they find cool and interesting so projects of all types of of any scale are supported.

Two students pose for a photo at the hackathon

Our mentors wore yellow construction hats to help identify them at the hackathon.

Throughout the night, there are also mentors who are going around to help hackers with any questions or issues they might run into. This year, a handful of Mudd alums came back for MuddHacks to be mentors at the event! We also had a few professors who stuck around until 1-2am helping students and building their own little projects.

What’s great about MuddHacks is that anyone can come, regardless of background or major. Those with little background experience will surely learn lots under the guidance of our mentors and it’s a great opportunity for non-engineers to get their hands dirty prototyping their ideas. Those with more experience will find the hackathon to be a great opportunity to collaborate with their peers, hone their skills, and make a super cool project.

A student demonstrates the slip-on rollerblades her team designed A close-up of the slip-on rollerblades, affixed to a student's shoe.

One team built removable roller blades than can easily slide on and off a regular pair of shoes.