CruzHacks 2022: Sparking innovation and embracing inclusion in tech

CruzHacks 2022 event banner
By: Melissa Weckerle

UC Santa Cruz recently hosted Cruzhacks, the largest hackathon on the California Central Coast. In its 10th year, CruzHacks brings together students to collaborate, network, and design technological solutions to pressing real-world challenges. The annual hackathon has three overarching initiatives: to teach students coding and programming skills, to provide a space for students to transform their technical knowledge into innovation, and to expand diversity and inclusion in STEM.

Held virtually for the second year under COVID-19 restrictions, more than 400 students from 15 countries and 90 schools participated. High school students, undergraduates, and graduate students were represented among the hackers.

The opening ceremony featured talks from industry leaders, including Alexander Wolf, Baskin Engineering dean and distinguished professor of computer science and engineering. Speakers touched on important factors for success, such as collaboration, not letting fear get in the way of opportunity, maintaining a willingness to learn and grow, and igniting the passion for innovation. 

For the next 36 hours following the open ceremony, CruzHacks 2022 participants worked tirelessly individually and in groups to develop novel software or hardware technological solutions. Throughout the event, multiple workshops offered participants opportunities to learn programming and user design skills to apply to their projects.

Projects developed during the hackathon included a real-time natural disaster tracker app, a platform that allows event hosts to ensure an upcoming event will be safe and COVID-19 compliant, and an app that individually tailors workouts based on end-user data.

Awards totaling over $35,000 in prize money were distributed during the closing ceremony. Among the CruzHacks 2022 prize winners were:

Best UI/UX Hack: MediBill
An application designed to provide patients an easy-to-understand overview of their medical bills and average price comparisons of procedures, allowing patients the opportunity to negotiate on treatment costs.

Best Golden State Hack: WasteLess
An application that connects food sources, like restaurants, schools, and hotels, with community members in need so they can donate their daily leftovers and prevent excess food waste going into our landfills.

Best Beginner Hack: Educare
A website that matches students with mentors in their local community for educational support and guidance.

Best Health Hack: SmartFlask
An application that tracks water consumption on a daily and monthly basis via a device that utilizes a radio signal to transfer data to a web server database.

Best Justice Hack: NewsChain
A platform that deploys blockchain-based verification to fight off misinformation in news and media so users can easily locate verified published news articles and images.

Best Education Hack: Virtual Planner
An application that removes the need for the standard book-based planner and instead incorporates an easy-to-use web-based platform that allows students and teachers to easily add and track to-do tasks to keep organized and improve their time management skills.

Secret Category Hack/Most Ambitious Hack: NewsChain
As stated above, NewsChain is a platform that deploys blockchain-based verification to fight off misinformation in news and media so users can easily locate verified published news articles and images.

Secret Category Hack/Wildest Idea: bewithdoggy
A computer vision monitoring system that attaches to an autonomous RC car to follow dogs around at a dog park and livestream their activity.

Secret Category Hack/Most Useful: Tabit
An application that helps keep users accountable by tracking their goals and habits and providing reminders when it's time to work on them.

For more information about CruzHacks, visit, and stay in-the-know on all upcoming campus wide events at