This weekend, thousands of technologists will (virtually) descend upon Miami for ShellHacks hackathon

This Friday marks the start of ShellHacks, Florida’s largest hackathon. While the event is typically hosted in-person at Miami’s Florida International University, the three-day event will be hosted virtually this year due to the pandemic.

On Tuesday, organizers reported that they have received over 2,800 registrations. That’s a significant lift from last year, when roughly 1,300 hackers attended.

A significant portion of the registrants come from Florida’s biggest universities, such as the University of Florida and Florida State University. But the ShellHacks team told Refresh Miami that there is also a significant contingency of forieign students that would not have normally been able to participate in the hackathon, if it were not for the fully-virtual format.

“A good portion of our registrations are coming from India,” noted ShellHack’s Co-Director Nicholas de Souza. “India has a lot of students interested in tech, and we partnered with hackCBS, one of India’s largest hackathons, in co-promoting our events.”

ShellHack’s Co-Director Nicholas de Souza

ShellHacks has also experienced a significant increase in sponsorships. More than 60 companies have sponsored this year’s hackathon, compared to around 35 last year. Why the growth? Nicholas Sean Gonzalez, President of UPE, the FIU student association running ShellHacks, chalks it up to Miami’s rise in prominence as a tech capital.

“One major difference that we see this year is the involvement from local companies, such as the crypto startups in Miami,” said Gonzalez. “That’s definitely a signal of the breakthrough that we’re having in Miami, as a city of tech.” 

Nicholas Sean Gonzalez, President of UPE

Sponsors include some of the biggest names in tech, as well as large corporations with a major presence in South Florida. There is also a wide array of community partners who are co-promoting the ShellHacks event, on top of industry mentors who advise students during the event.

Hackers will take part in various challenges, which the corporate sponsors set out. While the details around these projects are top-secret until the day of the event, the ShellHacks team said that we can expect to see at least one project focused on tech for social good. This initiative builds on the work that last year’s hackers did to help people suffering from the impact of the pandemic, and more broadly UPE’s agenda to turn tech talent into a force for good in the greater Miami region.

Organizers also said that we can expect to see a HardTech-related project. In addition to these projects, there are seven learning tracks that attendees can follow, including artificial intelligence, web development, and game development.

Despite the virtual format, ShellHacks’ organizers hope to maintain the positive, community-building environment of past, in-person events. “I’m really excited to see everyone talking with the sponsors, learning about opportunities, sharing challenges, and getting one-to-one feedback,” said de Souza. Gonzalez is most excited to “see the impact that we’re having on students, and how we can go beyond just the numbers of attendees and the sponsors we get.”

The event kicks off on Friday night, with an opening ceremony at 7pm followed by a sponsor fair at 8pm. ShellHacks comes to a close on Sunday afternoon, when participants will share – and be judged on – their creations.

It’s not too late to get involved in ShellHacks! Learn more and register at

2019 ShellHacks hackathon

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Riley Kaminer