Forgive us for being super late on this post, but we are very excited to announce that the University of Waterloo has won the Official 2018 North America MLH Hackathon Season!

The 2018 MLH North America Hackathon Season (running from August 2017 – July 2018) included 154 amazing events, 70,000 hackers, and 10,000 projects. We also saw the first ever hackathon at the Vatican hosted by a North American organizing team to hack for social good, bringing the League to a new global audience.  The University of Waterloo beat out 2270 other schools by having 3221 students participating in over 157 events! In addition to that 30 of those events had Waterloo students place in the top 3!

Here were the top 10 North America schools:

  1. The University of Waterloo
  2. The University of Toronto
  3. The University of Florida
  4. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  5. Georgia Institute of Technology
  6. The University of Maryland, College Park
  7. New York University
  8. The University of California, Berkeley
  9. The University of Southern California
  10. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Each Hackathon Season, MLH determines a school winner through a combination of merit points (earned when students from your school build winning projects) and participation points (earned when students from your school participate at a hackathon).  

With their annual hackathons, Hack the North (5th edition) and StarterHacks both having close to 1000 participants each,  it is only appropriate to also congratulate the students from University of Waterloo on spreading hacker culture by both attending and winning more North American hackathons than any other universities.

Courtesy of Hack the North photographer, Victoria Canning-Choi

The University of Waterloo’s Engineering Society’s EngHack is the official University of Waterloo’s tech society and has continued to influence the growth of this community in many ways.  More students are now traveling to hackathons in the Waterloo region. This past year’s venue for Hack the North included a new addition, Engineering 7, a state-of-the-art facility under the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Engineering and allowed almost the entire event to fit under one roof for the first time!


We reached out to Corbin McElhanney who heads up the Hack the North organization to learn what has contributed to the success of the community over the years.

What were your visions for the community this year?

Courtesy of Hack the North photographer, Victoria Canning-Choi

The past five years have been formative years for Hack the North. Since the organization was founded in 2014, we have grown immensely as the greater hackathon community continues to expand and attract more diverse audiences. This year we’re taking a step back to consider where Hack the North, and the greater hackathon community, might be going in the next five years.


Hack the North started as a leader of change in the hackathon space, trying many new models that were either shelved for the time being or have now become more mainstream. We’re privileged to have such an ability to shape the hackathon community, and we hope to use this position to address and change issues not only within the hackathon space but within the greater tech industry. After taking a hard look at the goals we currently set for ourselves, we’ll be redefining what our organization stands for to address better the challenges we’re facing, and set a clear vision for Hack the North 2019 and beyond.

What does it mean for you all to win the League?

Courtesy of Hack the North photographer, Victoria Canning-Choi

It’s an honor to be recognized, across all schools in North America, as the leading participant in what continues to be one of the most valuable learning opportunities for curious and passionate students. We think this reflects not only the immense potential of our student body but also its desire to share these experiences with more and more people, both familiar and new.

For us as hackathon organizers, winning the League is an impetus for us to continue what we’re doing. It is an affirmation of the effect we’re having on thousands upon thousands of students, and a great way to begin 2019.

Courtesy of Hack the North photographer, Victoria Canning-Choi

How do you all build out such a great hacker culture?

“To us, excellent hacker culture is one where everyone feels open to learning from others, sharing their failures with others, and building what might seem crazy.”  
We’ve always believed that what makes hackathons unique is the environment it creates where people can share their experiences, their knowledge, their questions, and their passions. Our goal as an organization is to allow anyone to dream big, and we reinforce this in everything we do. For our organizing team and all the participants in our events, we encourage people to be open and comfortable with each other, because this will allow them to operate at their best and most curious.

How has MLH affected Hack the North and the growth of the hackathon/community over the past years?

Photography by JiaJia Kong – At StarterHacks

MLH and Hack the North were founded around the same time, and have been close partners ever since. MLH has been a constant partner in our quest to put on unique events, and have been there to help whenever we’ve asked. As an organization, they’ve helped hundreds of new events get on their feet, spread the hacker culture to schools big and small, and continued to drive new initiatives for the hackathon community to grow. We’ve been happy to partner with them for each of the five iterations of Hack the North so far, and we look forward to many more in the future.

For younger hackathons such as StarterHacks, MLH has been a welcome partner to collaborate with and has assisted in scaling these events to a larger scale. MLH does a great job in aligning itself with its partner hackathons and their goals, adding meaningful value to every event they support.


Want to win this season?

Major League Hacking’s 2019 season is already in high gear, and in-progress standings will be available soon.  There are many awesome North American MLH Member Event hackathons announced and many more to come. Attend an event near your school soon!

Have you never been to a hackathon before? Don’t worry! Hackathons are for beginners too, and we’ve seen first-time hackers win some of the largest events.

Aiming to win can be fun but remember that hackathons are about learning, building and sharing above all.

Happy Hacking!

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