Challenges & Prizes

Sponsored Challenges


Best Use of Open Source Data For Social Good

Company: TwoSigma

Prize: Swag Bag

Description: Examples of social-good related topics: Wage inequality (by gender, race, etc.), predict which students will not graduate from high school, using social media data to measure the magnitude of disaster events, predict which projects/initiatives will be funded by the government or other organizations, predict healthcare outcomes, etc.

Judging Criteria:

  1. Innovative use of two or more data sets (20%)
  2. Social impact (30%)
  3. Technical difficulty (20%)
  4. Originality (30%)

Best Use of Wayfair’s 3D API

Company: Wayfair

Prize: 1 Oculus Go per team member / 5 maximum

Description: Given to the best Wayfair API hack. Use Wayfair's furniture models to build a next generation XR experience. View Wayfair's API at this link.

Judging Criteria:

  1. Innovation - The idea can demonstrate originality, or unique use of innovative technologies. It also demonstrates how it was developed, and the basis for its conceptualization.
  2. Impact - The idea can demonstrate the potential for impact and a high rate of success for effectiveness. It has the potential of making a difference in the target users' life and a likelihood that it will bring real value and solutions.
  3. Creativeness - Everyone's definition of creativeness will be different, but ultimately it boils down to artistic value, depth, and wow factor.

Best Hack for Housing Inequality

Company: Wayfair

Prize: $500 donation to the charity of their choice, $100 Wayfair gift card per team member, and additional Wayfair swag

Description: Wayfair believes everyone should live in a home they love. For this sponsored hack, we are looking for the most creative solution to housing inequality in the city of Boston. The winning team will get to give a donation to the charity of their choice.

Judging Criteria:

  1. Innovation - The idea can demonstrate originality, or unique use of innovative technologies. It also demonstrates how it was developed, and the basis for its conceptualization.
  2. Impact - The idea can demonstrate the potential for impact and a high rate of success for effectiveness. It has the potential of making a difference in the target users' life and a likelihood that it will bring real value and solutions.
  3. Creativeness - Everyone's definition of creativeness will be different, but ultimately it boils down to artistic value, depth, and wow factor.

Best Entrepreneurial Hack

Company: Rough Draft

Prize: Swag bag,lunch with RDV co-founders, opportunity to pitch RDV for up to $25K in funding

Description: From Facebook to Snap, Stripe to Squarespace, dozens of iconic companies have been founded by students. This prize goes to the team most likely to become future founders. We don’t expect you to start a company overnight--a "Rough Draft" will do.


Best Charitable Hack

Company: Validity

Prize: 6 Duck tour tickets and Fenway hats

Description: A hack that is a fully functional app or web site that serves a greater good.

Judging Criteria:

  1. Fully Functional App/Website
  2. Usefulness to Targeted Audience
  3. Project Pitch and Adaptability of Use in Everyday Life
  4. Technology Choices Used and Ability to Explain Why

Mental Health Issues Hack

Category: Health Issues

Company: BCBS

Prize: 5 internships

Description: Create a solution that helps individuals understand and support others with mental health issues.


Come As You Are

Company: Experimental Civic & Hacker Noon

Prize: 100 Amazon gift card and an opportunity for winning team to pitch/showcase their project to the City of Boston

Description: Environments can be the most important barrier to success. Our challenge is focused on building healthy, inclusive, thriving environments whether it's for your campus to the entire City of Boston, we want you to hack environments forward.


IBM Research Award - Trusted AI: Making AI safer and More Fair

Company: IBM

Prize: Internship for IBM research or interview for full time position

Description: Develop and demo an AI application that is fair, and inspires confidence. You can used unbiased data, such as IBM's new database of a million faces which are more reflective of those in the real world. You can also use IBM's open source AI toolkits for fairness and robustness. The winning team will produce a creative AI application that people can trust.


Best Social Good Hack

Category: Best Social Good

Company: Bloomberg

Prize: 4 mini / portable projectors

Description: Best hack that provides a solution to a social good initiative


Gender Equality Hack

Category: Gender Equality

Company: Liberty Mutual

Prize: Smart bracelets + $250 donation to Girls Who Code

Description: Create a solution to help victims of sexual assault raise their voice and have access resources.


Best Financial Hack

Company: Capital One

Prize: $300 gift cards for each team member

Description: This year Capital One will be giving away a prize for the “Best Financial Hack”. We’re making the challenge pretty broad, so that you all have room to work.

Judging Criteria:

  1. Creativity
  2. Completeness
  3. Complexity

Best Clean Transportation Hack

Organization: Massachusetts Clean Energy Center

Prizes: $300 award

Description: Best Clean Transportation Hack that will help replace or reduce the use of fossil fuels in the transportation sector.


Best Hack for Disaster Relief and Recovery

Company: JP Morgan

Prize: First place gets 5 Bose SoundLink Wireless Headphones and second place gets 5 Rasp Pi Ultimate Starter Kits

Description: Major cities across the world have been devastated by natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and earthquakes. We know the road to recovery is long and people are facing significant challenges as they work to recover from these historic weather events. Our help is clearly needed now and will be needed in the future when another disaster strikes. Create a solution that would help first responders respond to those affected by a natural disaster or create a solution that would help displaced victims with aid.


Best Use of Human-Centered AI

Company: Underscore VC

Prize: 1. Guaranteed interview for our U_First accelerator 2. Two 30m mentorship sessions with the winning team to advise on the hack/project -> company transition

Description: We believe that the best AI-enabled ventures of the future will go beyond the notion that AI will simply replace existing human workflows, but bridge the nuance, depth, and versatility from humans with the speed, scale, and resilience of machine intelligence. Underscore VC looking for big ideas that bring an interdisciplinary perspective that put humanity at the center of AI solutions!


Best Use of Data Hack

Company: MathWorks

Prize: Protocol Drone

Description: This challenge is centered around a teams ability to effectively use their data sets in the most unique way to create an innovative and creative project


Best Masked Machine Learning Hack

Company: Red Hat

Prizes: Red Hat backpack filled with swag + 100 visa giftcard

Description: Machine learning is widely used in many fields where data can be sensitive. It is very important to protect sensitive parts of any such data. Any attempts to mask such sensitive parts of the data must ensure that the resulting data set is still usable by machine learning models, i.e., training of a model performed on the original data should be similar to that of the masked data. In this challenge, you will be working on implementing a solution that masks machine learning data sets based on the requirements below. Data sets from any domain can be used for the challenge. Below are some of the repositories containing public data sets suitable for machine learning:


  1. Identify sensitive information in data set (such as email, phone number, ssn, credit card, name) through automated or semi-automated approach. Read more about Personally Identifiable Information (PII) at this link
  2. Preserve uniqueness of features in the data set.
  3. Statistical characteristics of output data should match source data.
  4. Output data should be: Irreversible (cannot produce input data from output data), Repeatable (technique used should produce the same output data from input data every time), and Usable by machine learning models.
  5. Masking technique should cover the following cases: ‘On the fly’ – Mask data as it is retrieved from a given location (on streaming data) and ‘Local’ – Retrieve data from location, store locally and mask data.
  6. Data masking of multiple data sets

Judging Criteria:

  1. Innovative workflow that incorporates infrastructure like databases for storage or Kafka for streaming data.
  2. Generic technique (that can work across data sets from different domains), etc
  3. Validation of given requirements.
  4. Demo of the solution (across different data sets).
  5. Publish the code to github.

Azure Champ Challenge

Company: Microsoft

Prizes: Xbox One Xs for each team member!

Description: Best hack that makes use of Microsoft's Azure.

Judging Criteria:

  1. Was the project developed using Microsoft Azure (required for entry)?
  2. Does the project address a clear need, problem, or opportunity and is the solution clearly explained (10 points)
  3. Does the project include innovations in technical design and/or implementation of services (e.g., Cognitive Services, Bot Services, IoT Hub, Functions) and/or user experience (20 points)
  4. Does the project have a clear target market or audience (5 points)?
  5. Is the project’s purpose and basic functionality easily understood (5 points)?
  6. Does the project have a professional degree of production in terms of performance, user interface, visuals, and audio (10 points)?
  7. Tie-breaker: Does the team have a credible plan for getting their project to market in terms of business model, any required partnerships, or other factors?

Scrappiest Hack

Company: Contrary Capital

Prize: Dinner with Chief of Staff and opportunity to pitch their project + AMA

Description: The scrappiest hack should be a well-thought-out product that is likely to be startup-viable. This means you’ve addressed the problem and market that the product addresses, and it has a business model. You pieced this all together and have a minimum viable product, but don’t forget, we expect it to be scrappy. Most early-stage products and startups make many changes after the minimum viable product! We just want to see a cool idea pieced together that has startup potential!

Judging Criteria:

  1. Scrappiness (how much did you get done? Did you get to go in depth with a pitch deck?)
  2. Startup-Viability (did you figure out a basic business model? Do you know what your total addressable market is?)
  3. Product (how’s your user experience? Is the product easy to use and understand?)

Spark! Inclusion in Tech

Organization: Spark!

Prizes: Oculus Go and subscription to instruction site

Description: Develop and demo a project that addresses the inclusion issues in Tech. Help us understand, inspire, or engage underrepresented groups in tech! Project for this prize can be anything from analyzing data on disparities in tech to building a solution that connects people to resources, to building models to predict if a student is at risk of dropping out of a class. For more inspiration and a list of potential problems to tackle, go to this link:

Judging Criteria:

  1. Potential Impact: does it address a real problem; how many people could this impact?
  2. Usefulness: is the hack usable/ useful in its current state? Is it practical?
  3. Technical Difficulty: Is the hack technically interesting or challenging?

BWWF Hack the Gender Gap Challenge

Organization: Women’s Workforce Council

Prizes: $500 award

Description: This project is sponsored by the Boston Women’s Workforce Council, a public-private partnership between the City of Boston, Boston University, and over 200 companies in Boston. In 2017 the UK was the first government in the world to require organizations with more than 250 employees to make wage data public. This is an incredible opportunity to understand what might be driving factors to the overall gender wage gap. We want students to analyze this data, combine it with other public data and help us understand what the US can learn from the UK open data set. Examples of possible factors could be: Industry and Job characteristics (e.g. historically male role, male-dominated industry, role level - e.g. low wage vs. professional, etc.), Leadership characteristics (e.g. number or percentage of women in executive level or C-suite roles - CEO, etc., number or percentage of women on the board, etc.), and, Employer provided benefits (e.g. family leave, etc.). If time, allows, we hope these data can be presented in a visually compelling and even interactive way. For access to the datasets visit this link

Judging Criteria:

    Analysis: the hack with the most insightful analysis on employer factors related to the pay gap
  1. Usefulness: the hack provides data in a format that can be used for further analysis
  2. Presentation: the hack presents the data or findings in a compelling manner

TechTogether Challenges


Waste Reduce Environmental Sustainability Challenge

Category: Environmental Sustainability

Company: TechTogether

Prizes: FitBits

Description: Create a solution for your neighborhood that reduces a waste of your choice.


Climate Change Environmental Sustainability Challenge

Category: Environmental Sustainability

Company: TechTogether

Prize: FitBits

Description: Create a solution that helps individuals and communities prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. City of Boston will provide Data sets.


Fake news Political Polarization Challenge

Category: Political Polarization

Company: TechTogether

Prize: Amazon Echo

Description: Create a solution that will help combat the fake news phenomena.


Policy Makers and Citizens Political Polarization Challenge

Category: Political Polarization

Company: TechTogether

Prizes: Amazon Echo

Description: Create a solution that helps connect policymakers and citizens.


Best Hack for Boston

Company: TechTogether

Prize: Surface Go

Description: The best technology to help the city of Boston solve a problem.


Health Issues Hack

Company: TechTogether

Prizes: Google Home

Description: Create a solution to help individuals from underprivileged backgrounds learn how to live a healthier lifestyle.


Best All Beginner Team Hack

Category: Disaster/Crisis

Company: TechTogether

Prize: JBL Speakers

Description: Team where it’s everyone’s first hackathon.


Best High School Hack

Company: TechTogether

Prize: Airpods

Description: Best hack created by a team consisting of all high school students.


Best UI/UX Hack

Company: TechTogether

Prizes: Sketch License

Description: The most aesthetic hack supporting nice UI/UX.


Funniest Hack

Company: TechTogether

Prize: Google Cardboards

Description: The funniest hack.


Best Education Hack

Company: TechTogether

Prize: Gift a Udemy course of participant's choice

Description: The best hack addressing critical issues in education or addressing an educational need.


Gender Equality

Company: TechTogether

Prizes: $100 Amazon Gift Cards per member

Description: Create a solution to help victims of sexual assault raise their voice and access resources.


Best Failed Hack Challenge

Company: TechTogether

Prizes: UberEats gift cards

Description: Best hack that showcases the participants growth and learning through the event.