Hacking Student Success: Sustainability Challenge

A hackathon is an event where students come together to form teams, brainstorm new ideas and create innovative projects around a specific theme. The Hacking Student Success: Sustainability Challenge is a three-part event series, where UCI students will have the opportunity to work together and develop sustainable solutions that have the potential to make a real impact for students, UCI, and the community. With over $65,000 in prizes available, this hackathon is open to undergraduate and graduate students of all majors, and you do not have to know how to code to participate. It’s a great opportunity to learn new skills, network with like-minded individuals, and make a difference in the world.

Hackathon Information and Rules


Please fill out the form below to solid your teams by 9pm on April 21st, 2023 .

Team Formation

  • Teams must be finalized by Friday, April 21, 2023. 
  • Teams must consist of 2 – 5 UCI students (max is 5). UCI graduates and DCE students can join teams. No more than 2 graduates/DCE students per team
    1.  *We reserve the right to increase team sizes depending on event participation.*
    2. *You must have more undergraduate students than graduate students on an team*
  • Students should take diversity, gender balance, and the establishment of an inclusive team environment into account when forming teams.
  • UCI alumni are welcome to participate as mentors for the teams; however, alumni are not allowed to participate in the pitch competition or receive funding.
  • Teams should follow the UCI ANTrepreneur Center code of ethics (see below).

Business Ideas

  • Ideas for the contest can take any form (including services, products, technologies, etc.), so long as the idea aims to address one or more of the five Sustainability Hackathon tracks (air, energy, water, livable spaces, food/waste).
  • Students are encouraged to create original/novel solutions; however, existing ideas, technologies, frameworks, elements of previous research, and so on can be incorporated.

Video Pitches

  • After the Kickoff/Team Formation and Video Pitch Workshops, your team will have to create and submit a 3 minutes (or less) video pitch.
  • Video pitches are due by 12:00 pm on Sunday, April 30, 2023, and must be submitted here: https://forms.gle/ZVU3yHcns8hVw9E98. 
  • Teams can use slides if they want during their video pitch presentation, but slides are not mandatory. 
  • Video pitches will be judged, and 20 teams will be selected to move onto the Semi-Finals Pitch Event, which is in-person.

Semi-Finals Pitch Event

  • 20 teams will move onto the Semi-Finals Pitch Event, which is in-person.
  • The in-person event will take place on Sunday, May 21, 2023 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm.
  • Five teams will be selected to move onto the next part of the Sustainability Hackathon competition.

Judging Criteria

  • Teams will be judged on their ability to clearly communicate the specific sustainability problem they are attempting to address, their solution, and the market for their idea. 
  • Rubric: 


Guiding Questions

Score (out of 5)

Disruptive Social Innovation

Does the pitch successfully identify and define a specific sustainability problem? Is the idea well-defined and innovative?


Does the pitch clearly define metrics of success?


Does the pitch illustrate a better method of achieving stated results than current or previous ones with identified or implied resources?


Does the solution disrupt systems that create inequities?

Market Understanding

Does the team show a strong understanding of their target market?


Does the team show how their solution compares to current methods of solving the issue with metrics of success for their solution?

Social Impact

Does the solution address a problem and create a significant impact on 1 or more of the 5 competition tracks?


Do they have plans in place to track social impact?


Do they clearly show an understanding of the magnitude of the chosen problem?

eg ( did they show stats, numbers, case studies, etc)


Has the idea/solution been validated or show potential to be validated effectively? Is their overall approach feasible?


How viable is their business model (i.e. value proposition, potential for growth, operational sustainability, network of partners)?


Is this idea scalable or show potential to become scalable? Did the team clearly state their marketing plan (i.e. acquiring customers/users, identifying stakeholders and influencers, communications strategy and distribution plan)?


Did the pitch follow a clear, logical and persuasive sequence?


Does the team have the necessary skills, expertise, and/or experience?

The Sustainability Challenge pitch should aim to address 1 or more of the 5 competition tracks:

Additional Comments: 

Total Score


Awards and Prizes

  • We are giving away over $65,000 in prizes and funding!
  • Hacking Student Success will culminate in a pitch competition, where five teams will be awarded additional prizes of $5,000 and receive entry to SURP, a summer research program, to further develop their ideas.
  • In Fall Quarter 2023, the five teams will present their ideas to the UCI student body who will select the idea that will have the most positive impact on sustainability.
  • The winning team will receive at least $20,000 in funding to go towards creating their idea that will then be launched across campus for user testing and feedback.

UCI ANTrepreneur Center Code of Ethics

By participating in this event, you agree to do the following:

  • Respect your team members and other participants
  • Do your best to create an inclusive environment within your team
  • Uphold standards of academic honesty and integrity
  • Be supportive of team members and other participants
  • Have fun and enjoy yourself!

Remember, while a competition, this event is meant to unite campus around a meaningful cause. Please be courteous, respectful, and uphold UCI’s high academic and professional standards.


If any disputes arise regarding the selection of contest finalists or special prize winners, arbitration will be handled at the UCI ANTrepreneur Center with all involved parties present. ANTrepreneur Center leadership will work with the various parties to come to a fair and final resolution.


The UCI ANTrepreneur Center claims no equity rights on the ideas created or presented during the event. 

Teams that use UCI intellectual property in any way must disclose their use and understand UC Intellectual Property guidelines and regulations. Learn more about Intellectual Property at the University of California. If you have questions regarding this matter, please contact UCI Beall Applied Innovation for assistance.


The UCI ANTrepreneur Center is available to offer support both during and after this event. Students are encouraged to schedule a consultation with ANTrepreneur Center leadership by sending an email to antrepreneur@uci.edu. Students are also invited to drop in at any time for walk-in assistance. The UCI ANTrepreneur Center is open Monday & Friday 11 am – 4pm, Tuesday – Thursday 11am – 7pm. Visit us here.