hackNY’s Fall 2015 Student Hackathon is less than a week away! We are especially excited about the knowledgeable and influential judges we have lined up for the event. Read more about three of our judges here, and see our our previous blog post to meet the rest of the judging team.

Catt Small
Product Designer at SoundCloud and Independent Game Designer

Catt is an expert UX and product designer at SoundCloud. She develops games at Buttered Toast Studios and Brooklyn Gamery, teaches coding and game development with The Code Liberation Foundation; and speaks about the future of gaming and web design. She says, “Hackathons helped me grow tremendously as both a designer and developer. I hope to see lots of designers collaborating with people who have other skillsets to make amazing things!”
Christina Wallace
Founder of BridgeUp: STEM @ AMNH

Christina Wallace is the founding director of BridgeUp: STEM, a new educational initiative at the American Museum of Natural History with a mission to captivate, inspire, and propel girls and minorities into computer science. Previously Christina was the founding director of Startup Institute New York, the Founder and CEO of venture-backed fashion company Quincy Apparel, a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, and an arts manager at the Metropolitan Opera. She brings expertise in technology, education, and design to our judging panel. She says, “I’m thrilled to join the judging team for the hackNY hackathon — I’ve attended the demos for several years now and am continually impressed with and inspired by the projects that arise. Looking forward to seeing what the students create this year!
Minerva Tantoco
Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York

As NYC’s first-ever CTO, Tantoco directs the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation with responsibility for the development and implementation of a coordinated citywide strategy on technology and innovation and encouraging collaboration across agencies and with the wider New York City technology ecosystem. While still in college, Ms. Tantoco co-founded technology startup, Manageware Inc, which was successfully sold five years later. Since then, Ms. Tantoco has led emerging technology initiatives including artificial intelligence, e-commerce, virtualization, online marketing and mobile applications. She holds four US patents on intelligent workflow and is a speaker and author on mobile, security, big data, and innovation.

Thank you again to all our wonderful judges. We are so looking forward to this weekend!

hackNY’s Fall 2015 Student Hackathon is coming up in less than three weeks, and we’re looking forward to our hackers experiencing the activities we have planned. We are especially excited about the knowledgeable and influential judges we have lined up for the event. Read more about three of our judges here, and meet the rest of our judges in Part 2!

Samantha John
Co-Founder of Hopscotch Technologies

While an engineer at Pivotal Labs, Samantha taught programming classes to beginners. She then co-founded Hopscotch, an iPad app that teaches kids to code by creating and sharing simple games. She spoke about her experience as a startup founder to our hackNY Fellows this summer as part of our Speakers Series. She says, “It’s an incredible honor to be chosen as a judge, I’ve been a big fan of HackNY since its inception. I just got an Amazon echo and I’m interested to see what kind of hacks people could do with their API.”

Whitney Green
Assistant Director and Director of Science Recruitment at Columbia University, and Former General Manager at hackNY

Whitney ran hackNY’s Fellowship and Hackathons for a year, so she brings valuable hackathon experience to the judging team. She is also the former President of Columbia Engineering Young Alumni. As a Campus Recruiter at PWC, she worked with college students from all over the country. Looking forward to her first time attending hackNY as a judge, she says “Yay!”
Yael Elmatad
Yael Elmatad
Data Scientist at Tapad

Yael works on Graph Problems related to building Tapad’s Device Graph. Before coming to Tapad, Yael was an Assistant Professor and researcher at NYU, working with high performance computing to study physical systems. She spoke to this summer’s hackNY Fellows about Tapad’s data science as part of our Speakers Series. She says, “I am very eager to meet more intelligent young computer scientists through hackNY and looking forward to seeing what creative solutions they have come up with.”

In our next post, we’ll introduce more of our judges – Catt Small, Christina Wallace, and more!

On Wednesday, five of our alumNY spoke at one of NYC Generation Tech‘s mentorship nights. After sharing their stories and answering questions, they received a standing ovation from the students! Cheryl Wu, Class of 2012, wrote a guest post for our blog reflecting on the evening. Cheryl is a designer and creative coder, who currently works as a Product Designer at Nasdaq while on leave from NYU Gallatin. She is the Swiss Army Knife of [email protected] , where she connects New York City’s student tech leaders as the first community lead. She is passionate about improving lives through design, ecology, and education. Be sure to check out our other recent guest posts, from 2015 Fellows Kim, Keeyon, Chris, Merry, and Shloka!

Cheryl Wu, Class of 2012


Cheryl Wu, Class of 2012

On August 5th, I was one of five hackNY AlumNY honored to speak on a panel and Q&A with the students of NYC Generation Tech. Like hackNY, GenTech nurtures the next generation of technologists and entrepreneurs. GenTech’s free summer program gives curious, motivated public high school students from all five boroughs hands-on experience in building and shipping. GenTech students take a mini-bootcamp in frontend code, imagine an app that helps their communities, learn to pitch and collaborate, and work with mentors from top companies to prototype their mobile apps. As with hackNY’s summer fellowship, the students also get incredible private tours and lectures – tours of Warby Parker and Google, and CEO and VC talks – and make lifelong friendships with peers who want to change the world by building new things.

AlumNY Gerard O’Neill (’12), Valentin Perez (’15), Dan Cadden (’15), Cheryl Wu (’12), and Alan Lin (’13) shared personal stories and insights about the tech industry with students from local high schools

Read more…

Update: Applications for the Class of 2016 are now open!

If this looks like your kind of summer, apply now. 

It’s been a week since hackNY Fellowship ended with a spectacular Demo Night, and we’re already missing our Class of 2015 Fellows. Our 34 Fellows had an action-packed 10 weeks of interning at local startups and attending our Speaker Series talks, workshops, mixers with the alumNY, and activities around the city. Applications for the Class of 2016 will open on September 26th, at the hackNY Fall Hackathon!

The Class of 2015 at Demo Night

Our Startups this year were exciting and diverse, ranging from small, early-stage startups like Betterpath and Ufora to household names like Buzzfeed, Kickstarter, and Foursquare. Every startup came with a project or series of projects for their Fellow to work on – each Fellow shipped real code this summer! – and a mentor to guide them and answer their questions. Our students worked on projects from data visualization to ad fraud detection to tools for their dev teams. Read more…

The Centre for Social Innovation welcomed us for Demo Night.

The Centre for Social Innovation welcomed us for Demo Night.

On Friday night we celebrated the close of the 6th hackNY Fellowship summer with demos, dinner, and 120 of our favorite people. Demo Night has been a tradition since hackNY’s first year, with Fellows demoing their work and personal projects at the end of their 10-week internships. This year, though, we shook things up a little by inviting our alumNY, Fellows’ colleagues, families, and mentors, and luminaries from our Speakers Series. We mingled over snacks at the Centre for Social Innovation, where our 34 graduating Fellows demoed 20 projects to an enthusiastic audience. After demoing, each Fellow received their graduation regalia – our traditional I HACK NY t-shirt, and a track jacket customized for their graduating class and designed by Hanne. After taking a group picture, we headed to Pennsylvania 6 for a celebratory dinner with Fellows and their loved ones. Well past midnight, we ate our last pieces of cake and said goodbye. We look forward to seeing our newly minted alumNY at the upcoming Fall Hackathon!

Read more…

This summer, we are featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. So far, we’ve heard from Kim and Keeyon about their impressions of the Fellowship’s first half, and fallen in love with NYC all over again with Chris. Shloka introduced us to the life of a hackNY Fellow with a unique audio piece you won’t want to miss. Today, we’re featuring Merry, who thoughtfully explores what makes the hackNY environment special.  Stay tuned this week for more posts about working at New York startups!


Merry Mou

Startup: MongoDB
Hometown: Fremont, CA
Special Talent: Humming incessantly


Have you ever tried to have a good conversation with someone on the subway? The closer people are packed, the farther they are from the here and now. Eyes averted, phones out, people are on their way from point A to point B, earphones in – no one here is looking to meet someone new.

There is a time and a place for good interactions. As I’ve grown older, “Wanna get coffee?” has become a more and more familiar phrase. Sure, the coffee meeting is actually quite an effective and enjoyable way to get to understand people, but there’s always something performant and transactional about the affair. Interactions, especially with those I am still getting to know, have become scheduled, orchestrated events. The coffee is something that guarantees to unify us for half an hour, maybe an hour; we share the faces that we wear at 3pm on a weekday, and then we both go back to our own business, our own worlds.

Time and setting. As simple as it may sound, finding enough time with the right people in the right environment is incredibly difficult – and I am glad to say that this is exactly what hackNY successfully creates. Read more…

This summer, we are featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. So far, we’ve heard from Kim and Keeyon about their impressions of the Fellowship’s first half, and fallen in love with NYC all over again with Chris. Here, Shloka brings us into a whole new medium with an audio piece! This week, we’ll also feature Fellow posts about working at two great startups, and one thing that makes hackNY special.

Shloka is a grad student at Columbia doing a dual Master’s in Computer Science and Journalism. She applied the skills she’s learned in school, as well as some of her own unique talents, to create this audio piece introducing you to the life of a hackNY Fellow.

Shloka Kini

Shloka Kini 

Startup: Buzzfeed
Hometown: Schererville, IN
Special Talents: Public Speaking; Performing Arts – Instruments,
Bollywood Dancing, Acting 


Over the next weeks, we will be featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. They will tell us about their experiences this summer, from exploring NYC to learning new technologies. Today, we feature Chris, who experienced the best kind of culture shock when he arrived in New York for the Fellowship.


Christopher Wan 

Startup: Magnetic
Hometown: Wellington, Florida
Special Talent: Public Speaking

I grew up in South Florida, the most suburban of suburbs. Imagine pretentiously-named gated communities like Olympia and Versailles populated by paper-cutter two-storied houses. Imagine every single kid being enrolled in recreational soccer at the age of 7 or 8 as some sort of rite of passage into SoFlo life. Imagine being limited to two first date options: 1) Dinner at a large-chain restaurant like Panera, or 2) Movies. Imagine Walmarts on Walmarts on SuperWalmarts.

Yeah, it sounds boring, doesn’t it? Everything is vanilla and chocolate. Black and white.

I’ve been in New York for seven weeks now. Sure, I’m doing software engineering 8 hours a day and not really dedicating myself fully to exploration of the city, but in the short amount of time that I’ve been here, I’ve heard the distinctive blaring ambulance noise more times than I ever previously had in my 19 years of life. I’ve seen people with holes in their ears the size of potato chips. I’ve seen hair colors that span ROY G. BIV, platform shoes that make women look like they’re walking on logs, breakdancers pole dancing in the subway trains for spare change. People here walk with a quick strut, a purpose, and a sort of intimidating intensity that makes you wonder where they’re going, and more importantly, why.

Read more…


We are happy to announce that Hanne Paine of the class of 2014 hackNY Fellows has joined hackNY full-time as Program Coordinator!

As an active contributor to the hacking community, Hanne is a great fit at hackNY. While an undergraduate majoring in computer science at Stony Brook University, she revitalized her department’s defunct Computing Society as President, increasing its membership 30-fold and organizing weekly Tech Nights featuring talks with startup leaders, tours of NYC tech companies, and a Startup Career Fair. She also introduced her classmates to hackathons, organizing bus trips to hackathons around the US and Canada for students from Stony Brook and the NY area. Hanne is also the director of Unhackathon, an event designed to encourage a greater diversity of hackers, projects, learning and creativity rather than competition. She’s also currently serving as a mentor to this year’s class of hackNY Fellows.

Hanne has previously worked at NASA, Green Map Systems, Google, and Betterpath (as a hackNY Fellow). She has been passionate about tech and education since she started working at a space simulation camp as a middle-school student, where she became a senior volunteer and their first female computer programmer. When not hacking and organizing, Hanne loves thinking about linguistics, astrophysics, reading everything, and being outside. She’s always happy to recommend a good book or talk shop about telescopes, cameras, or high-tech cooking equipment. If you’re lucky, you might get to meet one of the litters of rescue kittens she fosters for the ASPCA.

In other alumNY good news, Shy Ruparel has taken on a full-time role with our friends at Major League Hacking. We thank Shy for his contributions to hackNY and are happy that he’s continuing hackNY’s mission by joining a successful NYC startup.

In addition to helping hackNY with the summer Fellows program and fall hackathon, Hanne hopes to work on improving hackNY’s diversity, to create more ways for our Fellows and alumNY to be involved with the tech community, and to reach out to younger aspiring hackers.

Welcome, Hanne!

Over the next weeks, we will be featuring guest posts by some of our Class of 2015 hackNY Fellows. They will tell us about their experiences this summer, from exploring NYC to learning new technologies. First up are Kim and Keeyon, celebrating the Fellowship’s halfway mark!


Kimberly Leon 

Startup: Birchbox
Hometown: Monterey Park, California
Special Talent: Expert sailor. Owns her own boat, which she likes to call “Lil Bit.” 

Working at Birchbox has been amazing from day one. I’m building the content api for the articles/videos/slideshows Birchbox makes and I’ll be integrating this with the website’s search results. My mentor, along with everyone else on the Tech team, is very accessible and willing to help whenever I hit a wall or have questions. The entire Tech team at Birchbox is really close and often the best part of my day is getting lunch and talking with some of the other Tech team members. Ananta (2013 fellow who interned at Birchbox and now works there full time) reached out to me early on and treated me to lunch. A few weeks later, the CTO and VP of Engineering made time out of their busy schedules to take me and the other two tech interns to lunch. Free food is truly the way to a college student’s heart.

Kim and Ananta with Toast the dog!

On Mondays and Wednesdays we have the hackNY Speakers Series from 7-9pm, and I’ve learned so much about startups (and other topics, notably data science) over the last five weeks. Coming into hackNY I knew nothing about getting a startup off the ground and over the past five weeks I’ve learned a lot about the role of VCs and what it takes to start a company from nothing. My favorite talk so far was Jonah Peretti (Buzzfeed founder/CEO) being interviewed by Chris Wiggins. They poked fun at each other throughout the talk, which was really fun to watch (I also realized in the middle of the talk that Jonah’s sister is Chelsea Peretti, one of my favorite comedians. WATCH BROOKLYN NINE-NINE, IT’S A GREAT SHOW!!).

Even outside the speaker series, I spend a lot of time with the other fellows. We don’t leave Palladium most weeknights out of pure exhaustion, but usually our weekends are pretty busy. I’ve walked the High Line, pigged out at Smorgasburg, experienced the Rocky Horror Picture Show, walked/danced at the Pride Parade, and played countless games of Werewolf and Resistance with the 2015 fellows and mentors.

The first five weeks went by far too quickly, but I’m excited for what the second half of hackNY has in store!




Keeyon Ebrahimi

Startup: Clarafai
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Special Talent: Remembering quotes and songs from movies. 

When I got into hackNY, many alumNY told me that I was about to have the best summer of my life. This sounded great, but I was skeptical. The internship, speaker series, and meeting other fellows seemed cool, but not to the level of excitement every past fellow radiated.

Now after experiencing a little bit of hackNY, that excitement is starting to make sense.
I’ve fallen in love with how my hackNY class truly grills each amazing speaker we hear from. These hard questions lead to true and honest insight from speakers, which makes the talks so much better than the glorified sugar coated large auditorium presentations I am used to.

I knew I would love working for a small and exciting start up, but I thought I was only going to be able to help on the technical side. I had no idea I would also be trusted with contributing to significant business and strategic decisions. Another priceless value hackNY has made possible.

Above all is the value of having a community of like minded yet diverse fellows right outside my dorm room. If I want to work on a project, I can walk outside my door and find multiple hyper talented partners overly willing to help. If I feel like a fun ten plus player game of Resistance, I can send out a quick message and have a group of friends ready to play. We’ve had days together walking the High Line and nights together out on the town. We’ve made memories with big groups rallying at hackathons, and also with one on one conversations.

It’s impossible fully grasp the beauty of hackNY until you experience it yourself. I know I am only a little more than halfway through my hackNY experience, but I am already excited for the day where I can tell future hackNY fellows that they are about to have the best summer of their lives.