Hacking Student Success: Sustainability Challenge

The Hacking Student Success: Sustainability Challenge is an event series where students come together to form teams, brainstorm new ideas and create innovative projects around a specific theme. It 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 $60,000 in prizes available, this challenge is open to undergraduate and graduate students of all majors and teams can have up to two graduate students. It’s a great opportunity to learn new skills, network with like-minded individuals, and make a difference in the world.



The Sustainability Challenge is underway, and here are the 5 finalists:

Abelo Analytics offers a device and an app for monitoring and analyzing beehive behavior using machine learning, aiming to improve hive health and agricultural yield.

PZNanopore aims to enhance the Blue Energy production process through surface acoustic waves on piezoelectric nanopore membranes, boosting clean power generation from water salinity.

Antricity is an app that provides real-time electricity consumption monitoring and advice to reduce energy use, fostering better electricity habits and cost savings.

Waste Wise is a meal planning app designed to reduce food waste. It alerts users about expiring food and provides recipe suggestions, grocery receipt scanning, and access to discounts.

Surplus+ is a marketplace app connecting consumers to food businesses with surplus foods, and providing businesses with analytics to reduce food wastage and increase efficiency.

Call for Mentors

Over the summer, our goal is to match up teams with mentors to help them further develop their ideas.  That’s where we need your help. k Da

Why Sustainability is Important

As college students, we are the future leaders and problem-solvers of our world. Participating in a hackathon focused on sustainability is an opportunity for us to make a real impact on the pressing environmental challenges facing our planet. By developing innovative solutions to these challenges, we are not only making a difference in the world, but also gaining valuable skills and experiences that will set us apart in our future careers. With the support of experts and access to cutting-edge technology, this hackathon will provide us with the tools and resources to be part of the solution. Plus, it’s a chance to network and collaborate with like-minded individuals and make a real change together.

We are giving away over $60,000 in prizes and funding! The UCI ANTrepreneur Center’s special three-part event is centered on the theme of supporting student success by addressing sustainability challenges. The event series will invite UCI students to form teams, develop original business ideas, and compete for funding to bring their ideas to life.

The event will take place over three weeks with three workshops Spring Quarter, where students will receive support from the ANTrepreneur Center to refine their ideas.

UCI is One of the Coolest Schools

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) has been recognized as the leader in sustainability among U.S. universities. The University has earned a third No. 1 spot in Sierra magazine’s “Cool Schools” ranking and top distinctions in the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) STARS program. This makes UCI the only campus to score in the top 10 for nine consecutive years, placing first in 2014 and 2015 and tying for No. 1 this year with Vermont’s Green Mountain College. UCI also received the STARS Platinum rating which is one of only four campuses to do so and claimed first place overall for doctoral-granting universities, accruing the highest merit score among all North American schools.

We Have 5 Categories Team Can Pick From



Unleash your creativity and help shape the future of energy production and consumption. From renewable energy sources to energy efficiency, this category is all about finding innovative solutions to power our world sustainably.



Water is essential for life, and this category challenges you to come up with solutions to preserve and protect this precious resource. From water conservation to purification, this category is all about ensuring access to clean water for all.



Breathe easy, because this category is all about improving the air we breathe. From reducing pollution to developing new technologies, this category is all about protecting our health and the environment.


Livable Spaces

Cities are the heart of our communities, and this category challenges you to create solutions that make them more livable. From urban planning to transportation, this category is all about designing cities for people, not just cars.


Food / Waste

From farm to table, this category is all about addressing the challenges of feeding a growing population while reducing waste. From sustainable agriculture to reducing food waste, this category is all about creating a more efficient and equitable food system.

DONE- 13


Kickoff and Team Formation at the ANTrepreneur Center

5:00pm – 8:00pm

The kickoff event will feature speakers from UCI and industry all coming together to support the creation and rapid prototyping of ideas that will serve UCI students’ success. There will also be food and fun de-stressing and networking activities for students to help them form teams around different business ideas.

DONE – 20


 Business Development and Video Pitch Workshop

5:00pm – 8:00pm

This event will offer help with business idea refinement and video pitch training for student teams to help them further develop their ideas and get them ready for the video pitch portion of the competition.

DONE – 30


Video Pitches Due

By 12pm

Student teams must submit their video pitches by April 30th, by 12pm. Videos will be judged over the next two weeks, and the top 20 teams will be announced on May 11th.

Hack Days

Over two days, student teams will gather and have sprint work sessions, with mentors and advisors, to prepare for the semi-final pitches!



Hack Day 1

10:00am – 6:00pm

Student teams will gather and work on their ideas, to prepare for the semi-finals. 



Hack Day 2

10:00am – 2:00pm

Student teams will gather and work on their ideas, to prepare for the semi-finals. 

Semi-Finals Pitch Event

May 21st – 5pm – 8pm

All team members must be present on the May 21st  Semi-Finals Pitch Event. 20 student teams will give two minute pitches to a panel of judges, and five will be selected and will move on to the next part of the Hacking Student Success event series.  

Become a Mentor, Speaker, and/or Judge


Hacking Student Success is made possible by sponsorship from the UCI Office of Data and Information Technology, Dyson, UCI Graduate Division, UCI Division of Undergraduate Education, UCI Beall Applied Innovation, Sigma Computing, OOTify, XvsX Sports, and AWS. Want to be a sponsor? Email Ryan Foland at rfoland@uci.edu

Top Reasons to participate


  • Semi-finalists win $1,000 in funding
  • Five teams will win $5,000 in funding
  • Teams can win $2,500 special judges prizes
  • You don’t have to be a computer engineer
  • Learn more about sustainability
  • Hear from awesome speakers
  • Meet and make new friends 
  • Flex your innovative muscles 
  • Come up with a start-up idea
  • Pitch your ideas in front of investors
  • Gain valuable start-up experience
  • Free food at each of the events 

“We want students to learn by doing. And that is exactly what this Sustainability challenge is all about. Undergrads and graduate students working together, with help of mentors, to solve real world problems in sustainability, gives them a safe sandbox to explore new and innovative ideas.”

– Ryan Foland

Ryan Foland, Director of the ANTrepreneur Center

The Pitch Finals 

The Sustainability Challenge 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 student mental health. The winning team will receive at least $20,000 in funding to go towards creating a viable product that will then be launched across campus for user testing and feedback.

Students presenting their product ideas to a panel of judges and a live audience at The Cove at UCI