FCHacks is a hackathon for high schoolers in the Pittsburgh region. A hackathon is a competition during which students who are interested in exploring computer science or engineering team up and build cool projects (apps, games, robots, or whatever they're excited about). FCHacks is open to students with a variety of skill levels—no prior knowledge or experience needed. All participants will have access to mentors and materials, and will have a chance to pitch to sponsors and judges and win prizes; beginners will also be provided with computers, workshops, and special prizes.


FCHacks is a 12-hour hackathon, from 7:30 AM to 7:30 PM, on Saturday, March 2, 2019. We'll have an opening speaker, around 10 hours of dedicated time for students to work on their projects (and eat—lunch and snacks are provided!), and a science-fair style expo presentation, award ceremony, and closing speaker at the end of the event.


FCHacks will take place at Fox Chapel Area High School, about 20 minutes outside of the City of Pittsburgh.

611 Field Club Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238

Check out highlights of the previous FCHacks to see what to expect this year!


Time Event Notes
7:30am Registration Enter through Athletics entrance (near the parking lot and Fox statue). Bring student ID if you have one.
7:30am Breakfast Bagels and pastries catered by Market District.
7:45am Introduction, opening speaker, kickoff Our opening speaker will be Jeff Boleng, the special assistant for software acquisition at the Defense Department. He was formerly the acting Chief Technology Officer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute. We hope you are as excited for his talk as we are!
8:15am Hacking begins!
8:30am to 9:30am Brainstorming and team formation (Optional)
9:00am Army Careers Workshop Learn the various technology related jobs in the United States Armed Forces, such as a Military Intelligence Systems Maintainer / Integrator, a Information Technology Specialist or a Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operator
9:30am to 11:30am Army's Mobile Usability Lab Exhibit (Optional) The MULE Semi is a 18-wheel tractor trailer that is an interactive exhibit offering a Humvee Simulator, an Augmented Reality Sand Table, HTC Vive System, the Oculus Rift System, the Distracted Driver System and an iRobot.
Noon to 1:00pm Lunch! Catered by Mitch's. Vegetarian options available.
2:00pm to 3:00pm CAD Workshop (Optional) Interested in learning how to design objects for 3D Modeling or printing? This Workshop will teach the basics of CAD and its main practical tools.
5:00pm Hacking ends!
5:15pm to 6:00pm Expo Teams will set up demos for judges, who will walk around and pick the top 5 projects as well as winners of several special awards (Best Beginner Hack, Most Entrepreneurial Hack, Best Hardware Hack, Best Web Hack, etc.).
6:00pm to 6:30pm Dinner! Pizza from Gino's. Plain, pepperoni, and veggie available.
6:30pm to 7:00pm Final Presentations (open to the public) Top 5 teams will pitch their projects on stage to final judging panel.
7:10pm to 7:30pm Awards Ceremony (open to the public) After judges deliberate on top three hacks of the day, awards and prizes will be given. Even you don't win, there are still plenty of other prizes for Best Entrepreneurial Hack or Best Beginner Hack, as well as raffles for all who particiapted.


What generally happens at a hackathon?

During a hackathon, participants ("hackers") work in teams of up to 4 to build projects ("hacks") from scratch. These projects can be pretty much anything—apps, games, robots, websites, or anything else you can dream up!

What do people usually make?

There are very few limits on what you can build, but here are some examples of what people have made at other hackathons. Keep in mind that almost all of these projects were created by college students during longer events (typically 36 hours)—your projects at FCHacks do not have to be this elaborate!

Isn't hacking illegal?

In this context, "hacking" means quickly and cleverly building a piece of hardware or software from scratch. This is completely different from illegal hacking, which involves gaining unauthorized access to a computer system.

Do I need to have a team or an idea?

Not at all! You're welcome to start brainstorming or forming a team ahead of time, but this is certainly not required—we'll have dedicated time at the event for you to find a team and come up with an idea.

What can I win?

We'll have several prizes at the event, including overall prizes (1st, 2nd, 3rd) and prizes for hacks in specific areas. We'll also have a special prize specifically for beginners.

Who can attend?

FCHacks is open to all high school students. If you're younger, email us and we'll see what we can do. If you're older, please consider registering as a mentor or volunteer instead.

How much does it cost to attend?

Absolutely nothing! FCHacks is completely free to attend, and, thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, we'll also have lunch and snacks provided throughout the day, as well as materials for you to work with.

What resources will be available for me?

We'll have mentors available to help you with various aspects of your project, like iPhone app development or circuit design, as well as optional workshops centered around specific topics, like pitching your project to the judges. We'll also have materials for hardware hackers (think Arduino boards, 3D printers, and soldering irons) and extra resources for beginners.

What if I've never coded before?

No problem! One of our main goals is to provide an opportunity for students with little exposure to computer science to see how fun and powerful it can be. If you're a beginner, we'll have intensive introductory workshops teaching you how to code something from scratch, and we'll even provide you with a laptop pre-loaded with the tools you need. We'll also award a special "Best Beginner Project" prize at the end of the event.

What should I bring?

All you need to bring is a student ID, a laptop (if you don't have one, let us know and we'll see what we can do), physical materials (if you think you'll need them for a hardware hack), and an open mind!

How do I sign up?

You can register for FCHacks as a participant, mentor, or volunteer on our EventBrite page or subscribe to our mailing list .

Have a question we didn't cover here?

Email us at and we promise we'll get back to you soon!

What kinds of projects can I make?

You can make anything you’d like. When brainstorming, we recommend thinking of problems that many people face, or some practical application of technology. It’s a good idea to work in an area that you are familiar with, but don’t be afraid to push your boundaries! For some inspiration, you can see what winners of college hackathons have done at

What technology can I use?

A variety of hardware is available, ranging from Arduinos to cameras to motors. These can all be found in the library. We also have laptops available for your use, which can be found in computer carts located in several places. You must return the computers you use to the same cart that you got it from, in the right numbered slot.

Where can my team work?

Our library, cafeteria, and technology wing will be open for you to set up shop and start working. Volunteers can show you where to go. Please clean up your area after you are done hacking.

What if I don’t have a team?

No worries! You’ll have time to meet and brainstorm with other hackers. Teams will have to register in the library by 12:00pm.

How are projects judged?

Projects will be based on a rubric of five criteria: completion, usefulness, originality, technical difficulty, and pitch.

Sponsorship Panel

Interested in sponsoring, mentoring, or volunteering at FCHacks?

Support the next generation of makers, dreamers, and inventors by partnering with us.

Sponsorship Information Mentor/Volunteer Registration