MLH 2020 Season Badge


First-Time Hacker FAQ

A hackathon is a team event where you make, or “hack” together a coding project within 24 hours. Teams demo their projects at the end of the event for the chance to win amazing prizes. Hackathons are a great place to learn about a particular technology you might be interested in, meet other people who are interested in tech, and also exercise your creativity and curiosity!

You can create your team with whoever you like, up to four people, once you arrive. Or if you are really determined, you can create a project all by yourself! We will have a team-forming event at the beginning event for those still looking.

Come anyways! Pearl Hacks welcomes all.

Yes, you will! The entire UNC Computer Science Department is committed to making computer science a more diverse field. We are working to make this Pearl Hacks the most supportive environment for women and non-binaries in tech, so come willing and ready to meet inspirational and passionate people excited to hack with you.

General FAQ

As long as you identify as female or non-binary and will be 18 at the start of the hackathon, you are more than welcome to attend! Professionals are encouraged to attend as mentors, regardless of gender, and men are also welcome to attend as volunteers.

Anyone who identifies as female or non-binary is invited to participate in Pearl Hacks. Register here and we will notify you of your acceptance as the event approaches.

MLH is providing the full hardware lab. In addition we will have soldering and assorted components, Arduinos, Raspberry Pis, and more Pebbles than you can wear on four limbs…

Is grass green? Is the sky a beautiful Carolina Blue? Don’t worry: We’ll provide five full meals throughout the hackathon, and there will be plenty of snacks in between. You won’t be hungry. Please don't take more food than you need.

We have a limited number of air mattresses available for those who wish to use them; feel free to bring a pillow and blanket. We will have a dedicated “quiet room” (we can’t call it a sleeping room for legal purposes but you can think of it as one). If you prefer a hotel, there are a number of options adjacent to campus, but they aren't free.

Please see the travel tab for all questions related to travel.

All work on a project should be done at the hackathon. Teams can use libraries, frameworks, or open-source code in their projects. Working on a project before the event and open-sourcing it for the sole purpose of using the code during the event is against the spirit of the rules and is not allowed. Adding new features to existing projects is allowed. Judges will only consider new functionality introduced or new features added during the hackathon in determining the winners.


In order to attend Pearl Hacks, you must have a valid university ID, or have graduated within the last 12 months.

Anyone may attend Pearl Hacks, even if you register late or not at all. You can sign up at the door.

We do not allow alcohol, weapons, or illegal substances in our venues. Please do not permanently modify or damage the rooms that we will be using. If you see something that needs immediate attention, please notify an event volunteer or message a director on Slack. Please let us know if you have specific accessibility concerns.

Please clean up after yourself and use the proper receptacles for your garbage. If a trash can is overflowing, try to find another one and alert an organizer to the problem by messaging one on Slack

All code presented for judging must be written during the event. Contestants that violate this rule will be disqualified. The easiest way to avoid doing this is by trying something you've never done before.

In the event of an emergency, call 911, and then message a director on Slack.

All Pearl Hacks attendees must agree to the MLH Data Sharing Notice.

In addition to everything listed on this page, Pearl Hacks also requires all attendees to abide by the MLH Code of Conduct.