NIU invites high school teens to annual 'Huskie Hack' event Feb. 23-24

  • High school age students are invited to join Northern Illinois University's annual "Huskie Hack" Feb. 23-24 at the Holmes Student Center on the DeKalb campus. Learn how to harness the power of today's technology to make positive change in their world.

    High school age students are invited to join Northern Illinois University's annual "Huskie Hack" Feb. 23-24 at the Holmes Student Center on the DeKalb campus. Learn how to harness the power of today's technology to make positive change in their world. Courtesy of Thinkstock

Submitted by Northern Illinois University
Posted1/11/2019 1:00 AM

Northern Illinois University is calling ninth- to 12th-graders who are curious how to harness the power of today's technology or desire to make positive change in their world to the annual "Huskie Hack" Feb. 23-24 at the Holmes Student Center on the DeKalb campus.

The annual 24-hour hack challenges students to use their computer science, social activism and interface design know-how to create solutions to pressing problems in their lives. Register at


The "Huskie Hack" welcomes students of all skill levels to join; this hack highlights interdisciplinary collaboration and teamwork.

You can network with representatives from companies who hire coders, meet college students who study computer science and technology and compete for prizes.

A hackathon is an event with many variations but is usually a multiday event that brings together computer enthusiasts, programmers, coders, designers and subject matter experts to sprint design a software solution to a stated problem.

Hacks offer an educational opportunity for students to get hands-on experience as hackers while working together on a team with students from various backgrounds.

After the set time, the teams present their hacks to a panel of judges, and the best hacks are awarded prizes.

The Huskie Hack is a 24-hour event that begins at noon Saturday, Feb. 23 to noon Sunday, Feb. 24.

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Throughout the hack, each student team will be led by an appointed university-level mentor. Students also will have access to experts in programming, design and social activism. Students can seek out these experts for troubleshooting on their project. The hack will conclude with judging and prizes.

The Hack will be held on the first floor of the Holmes Student Center on NIU's DeKalb campus. The Hack will last for a full 24 hours, from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. Students are expected to participate for the entire 24 hours with some fun breaks planned.

Students are absolutely not allowed to leave the HSC's first floor during the entire 24 hours. Once a student exits the Hack area, they will not be readmitted. If a student exits, they will not be allowed to rejoin the hack and their parent or guardian must pick up the student immediately.

If parents would like to watch the award ceremony, they are welcome to the Holmes Student Center at 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 24. Parking is available in the main parking deck on Normal Road (just south of the student center).


Participants should bring any computing supplies that you think you might need. If you need a specific piece of equipment that you do not have access to, contact the organizers and they might be able to score you one. They will provide you with work space, an internet connection and a dedicated server with data sets for you to use. If you have an open data set that you would especially like to access, contact them to see if they can get access to the set for you. Bring any other reference material that you think might be useful.

Wear comfortable clothes and bring a water bottle. Bring snacks, although they do provide meals throughout the Hack. Bring your cellphone and chargers. There also will be a photo booth.

Students with all kinds of interests are invited to the Hack. They want students to experience the importance of working collaboratively with teammates who have a variety of skill sets. Students are grouped by skill so that all student teams will contain computer experts, social activists and designers.

All three skill sets are needed so if you have any of those skills or are just interested in any of those topics, this hack is for you. Remember that they will have mentors and experts available to aid students throughout the hack!

Hacking is just one part of the NIU Huskie Hack. They will provide all the meals required for the 24-hour period, starting with snacks on Saturday afternoon to breakfast on Sunday morning. You are also free to bring your own snacks for the hack and bring some to share with your new friends!

Workshops on various aspects of computer programming and social activism are offered throughout the Hack. All workshop topics are related to the Hack theme.

Everyone at the Hack is there to learn and hack, but they also come to have fun! Fun activities will get you moving, refresh your brain, and get your creativity pumping. They will have an activities room full of board games, video games, escape rooms, movies and more. Taking a break from your project may just be the inspiration you will need to come up with your best idea.

For questions about the Hack, contact NIU STEM Outreach at (815) 753-0533 or email

Volunteer and mentorship opportunities available, visit


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