By Justin Yu | 29 Dec 2017

Hackathons. Some of my most cherished weekends were spent with a group of friends coding through the night, surrounded by an absurd amount of red bull, coffee, and anything else that will help me through my all-nighter. I love the innovative energy that a hackathon inspires, and my favorite part is always looking at all the creations that result in the end.

However, with each hackathon I’ve attended, I’ve noticed a trend: although hackathons inspire innovation, oftentimes they encourage flashy projects with little real-world applications at the cost of projects with a bigger scope, bigger impact and a wider long-term vision. Of course, it’s understandable. There’s only so much you can do in 24 hours, and among hundreds of hacks and a rapid-fire judging process, flashiness is king. I’ve even encountered a segment of the hacking community that believes this type of flashy innovation to be the essence of hacker culture, seeing hackathons that include entrepreneurial elements to be too “corporate”.

Personally, the idea that a hackathon project should be confined to 24-hrs of rapid development and then dropped baffles me. I’ve always believed the goal of a hackathon is to be the stepping-off point for larger projects, even future startups, that have the potential to solve some problem in the community. Isn’t that what hackathons are for? Upon closer examination, I realized that true post-hackathon success stories are few and far between. With the exception of companies like GroupMe and Carousell, there aren’t very many hackathon projects that grow beyond their initial inception to actually have the impact they intended to achieve. Among high school hackathons, projects that grow post-hackathon are almost non-existent.

I set out to solve this problem with MAHacks. With a greater focus on entrepreneurship and creating sustainable projects, MAHacks is not your average hackathon. We are actively recruiting both students with a technical background and students entrepreneurs who already have a detailed venture idea, forming a team with a perfect balance of skills for collaboration beyond the hackathon.

We are also offering Tracks for the first time! Tracks are specific topic areas that participants could choose to make their projects in. Each track will have speakers who discuss the topic, problems in those fields, and give advice on how to solve them. The prize for a track is not your typical quadcopter or Amazon Fire, but rather an in person meeting with mentors and experts in the Track’s fields that can provide guidance and support for project continuation. Our Tracks this year are Medical Technology and Education.

MAHacks Attends Boston Hackathon Organizer Dinner with Major League Hacking Founders

By Emily Tan | 17 Oct 2017

On Tuesday October 3rd, 2017, MAHacks director Justin Yu (Winchester High School) and fellow organizer Katherine Huang (Lowell High School) were invited to attend dinner in Boston’s North End with Mike Swift and Jonathan Gottfried, founders of Major League Hacking and Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees.

Hackathon organizers from across the world such as HackMIT (Massachsetts Institute of Technology), BostonHacks (Boston University), HackWITUs (Wentworth), HackGT (Georgia Institute of Technology), HackRU (Rutgers University), and Hack Sheffield (Sheffield, England), attended the event. Representing the only high school hackathon, Justin and Katherine took the opportunity to connect with other passionate leaders and receive advice for running hackathons.

MAHacks’ attendance at the Forbes U30 Summit marked the beginning of its preparation for the upcoming 2017-2018 year. After their first successful year, the MAHacks organization team is eager to prepare for the next year’s winter and spring hackathons!

Stay tuned for MAHacks III.