Applications are closed! See you at PennApps.

Hosted at the nation's first university, PennApps is the original college hackathon.

Come join us to learn something new, build an app, or start a company.

Let's continue to make history together!



In the context of a hackathon, the word "hack" is used to describe how multiple technologies can be used together in a new and innovative way. Teams of up to four people spend the weekend working on innovative software and hardware solutions to real-world problems. These projects range in platform and application, including elements of web development, mobile applications, drones, and more. However, many times the most important aspect of a hackathon is the community it generates and skills that inexperienced hackers walk away with.


Founded in the fall of 2009, PennApps was the nation's first student-run college hackathon. Since then, it has spurred a revolution in the way engineering students develop and showcase their skills, spawning an entire "league" of hackathons across the nation. In past years, over a thousand students from the U.S. and other countries like Switzerland, Canada, England, and Singapore have converged in Philadelphia for the spring and fall editions of the event for a weekend of creation and discovery. Both beginners and experts alike will work together, learn and compete to become better engineers and work on awesome projects. This year, PennApps is expanding its focus on learning by emphasizing the collaboration of new and experienced hackers, and providing more learning opportunities and workshops throughout the weekend.


At the end of every cycle, we ask the PennApps family if they would like to be a campus ambassador for PennApps. What this entails is spreading the word about PennApps at your local school, college or university. Campus ambassadors are an important part of the PennApps community and receive custom swag and perks at and before the event. Campus ambassadors have been announced.



PennApps is built upon the idea that everyone can participate, from individuals who have never written a line of code to experts who have been developing for years. We have a number of resources available at PennApps, including workshops, hacker gurus, and the ability to request a mentor. If you are not sure where to start, the mentorship team holds tech talks, introductory guides, and more. We are here to help! The PennApps Mentorship team can be reached at


PennApps is partnering with Architechs again this year to let hackers get their hands dirty with hardware hacking. Whether you have vast experience with hardware or want to try it for the first time, our team of hardware volunteers will help you learn to use the cool gadgets we’re o ering to build something incredible. We will be providing access to laser cutters and 3D printers as well as having our hardware check-out station to help make your hack the best one out there. PennApps aims to provide a wide array of hardware to interested hackers. A list of our previous parts can be found here. If you have any suggestions for specific hardware you’d like to see this winter please fill out this form with our requests. If you have any specific inquiries, feel free to reach out to Aayaz V. at [email protected].


Routes will continue this fall to provide you with additional and incentive when you hack on specific themes or just cool things to be a part of in addition to your hack. Think of Routes as a series of forks you can take, each adjusting your final destination by a bit. The right combination will help make your hack that much better, and each one you choose to take could lead to a very special payoff.


The finance industry increasingly relies on software. Show us how your project can intelligently invest in the stock market, improve personal financing, or find the best deals for the holidays. If you can create an awesome piece of technology related to finance, this route is for you!


Technology is becoming more and more important to the healthcare industry. We're eager to see everything from hardware hacks that make daily life easier for the disabled to mental health hacks that encourage healthier habits. Let's find a way to make our hospitals safer and our people healthier!


Don't make your computer think like a human -- make it think better than a human. Whether you're using Big Data to teach computers how to predict natural disasters or using NLP and Computer Vision to teach them how to read road signs, we're excited to see how this route will push the boundaries of artificial intelligence!



Thousands of qualified candidates apply to participate in PennApps every year, however our space can only support a limited number of participants and as much as we'd like to take everyone, it just isn't possible. We think that the fairest way to decide who we invite is by asking everyone to tell us a little bit about themselves, so that we can invite people who have demonstrated interest and skill.

We don't expect everyone to have been to a hackathon before, in fact, we love first-time hackers having been there ourselves when we started! We're just trying to bring those who most want to really build something awesome and learn something new, and while we can't invite everyone, we're striving to continue building a community of diverse and amazing hackers at PennApps. Just show us what you've made, tell us about why you want to be at PennApps, and we'll do our best to get you here!

By growing to become the largest hackathon in the nation, we hope to double the number of people we can invite to PennApps, so get ready for a life-changing experience!



We know you have a lot of questions, so check below for some of the most common answers (and this document for even more) or drop us a line at .

How much will PennApps cost me?

Not only will we provide you with a weekend's worth of swag, meals, drinks, and snacks and a place to crash when you need a break from coding.

Once I am accepted, what do I need to bring?

Need: Laptop and charger, cellphone and charger, sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries, a couple changes of clothes (nerdy shirts are particularly appreciated). Consider bringing clothes that can get wet (I can neither confirm nor deny there may or may not be a water fight )

Don't need: a pre-determined team, an idea for an app, food or drink.

Please don't bring: Firearms or other weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, soldering or similar equipment, animals (no matter how adorable).

When/Where can I hack?

PennApps will start with the kick-off ceremony at Penn Engineering Quad. There will be events planned throughout the day for those who arrive early. A detailed schedule of events and locations will be posted later. All work eligible for prizes must be completed between Saturday after the kick-off and Sunday.

What can I win?

It's not about winning—it's about learning and making friends that last for a lifetime (so everyone's a winner!). If you're thinking, "that's adorable...but really," then we've got you covered too. A panel of professional judges will select the top three hacks based on the following criteria: creativity, technical difficulty, polish, and usefulness. Top prizes are TBA, but usually involve thousands of dollars and insane perks from company sponsors. Most sponsors offer their own prizes too for specific categories, which they judge and fund themselves. We had well over $40k worth of prizes up for grabs last time including Nintendo Switches and Oculus Rifts, if you like numbers.

I'm interested in using hardware for my hack?

You're in luck! We have a whole team of organizers devoted to hardware. Check out the hardware section to see what they have planned.

What's the application process like?

We're looking for creative and innovative people with a set of skills that can contribute to a project - mobile, web, hardware, design, or anything else really cool. We generally prefer people that have proven their abilities in previous projects, evident through links, project descriptions, Github profiles, video demos or participation/awards in other hackathons. We don't require that you've participated in a hackathon ever before, but show us what makes you special in whatever way is most natural.

When will applications close?

The application will close December 23rd.

Who can apply?

Any college or university student 18-25 years old on February 2nd, 2019 is eligible to apply.

Should Penn students fill out the application too?

In past cycles, all Penn students have been allowed to attend without applying. However, this cycle Penn students *must* apply like all other students if they wish to hack at PennApps. Penn students will still be allowed to participate in workshops, but in order to hack and be eligible for prizes, they must apply and be admitted.

I'm not a student, so how can I get involved?

Unfortunately, we can't allow you to participate in the event or be on site during hacking. If you're looking to mentor (i.e. someone with technical skills who'd be willing to help out participants during the weekend), you should reach out to us at [email protected] Otherwise, you can see the finished products at the demos on Sunday (time and location TBA).

How is PennApps run?

PennApps is planned almost entirely by (sleep-deprived) University of Pennsylvania students, with some advice and assistance from our friends at Penn Engineering. One hundred percent of the funding for PennApps comes from corporate sponsor donations. You can find more information about sponsoring at our sponsor section.

How should I behave?

Be respectful and considerate of your fellow hackers. We're all here to learn and have a good time. Everyone deserves the chance to hack free of the fear of being harrased. See the code of conduct for more details.

What should I do if I have additional questions or want to express my limitless gratitude?

Aw shucks. First check out this for more FAQs that will be updated in real time and if you really must thank us shoot us an email at .

Working with PennApps as a sponsor provides companies a unique opportunity to reach some of the nation's most talented college students. Interested in sponsoring?

Send us an email at for more details!