Resource:How to organize a Makeathon

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Makeathons are an excellent way of collaborating with students from all around campus in different majors. It enables them to use their creativity to innovate and explore new ideas that they may have. It is a competition, but it is focused on learning rather than winning. Its purpose is to help students gain experience with the process of design and the use of equipment that they would normally miss out on in the classroom. 


To run a successful Makeathon, several goals should be outlined. What are you trying to accomplish and why? 

  • Develop passion and hands on skills with tools and other machinery
  • Connect with resources and other participants
  • Invest in people
  • Have a good experience and want participants to come back the next year to mentor/help
  • Have it be less about competition, but more about learning, forming relationships, and having fun
  • Gather a diversity of students across all majors 
  • Safety
  • Funding

Where To Begin

There is a lot of planning that needs to happen beforehand and as well as a number of factors to take into consideration.

Funding and Advertising

In order to cover the costs of all supplies and other equipment tools, there must be sponsors. A good route to take is looking at Kent State in Ohio's Fashion Tech Hackathon and to have tiers as sponsors. Target is also another good option. It can be expensive, depending on the number of people you expect to be attending, which is why advertising is so crucial. There should be enough supplies for all participants, not too little and not too much. It should be done in several different ways to achieve the best outcome.

  • Use Eventbrite for tickets and also keep track of how many are officially attending
  • Advertise for a long period of time to gain more participants
  • Spread by word of mouth
  • Make posters around campus size 11x17
  • Create facebook event and use money to spread word
  • Class visits 
  • Email professors of relevant classes


  • Experience not required, all makers welcome
  • Teams allowed in without an idea
  • Must be a student attending the school (liability issue otherwise)
  • Must attend a safety training during the event
  • Sign informal waiver (power tools, safety, etc.)

Create Theme

  • "Grand Challenges" - worlds biggest problems
  • Keep it open ended enough so that participants can make anything that they want without too many restrictions

Where The Session Should be Located

  • Makerlab
  • Big open area
  • Lots of rooom for tables and chairs and power equipment

Materials Needed

  • Pipe cleaners
  • Craft supplies
  • Duct tape
  • Spray paint
  • Wood/metal/plastic stock
  • Hardware/fasteners
  • Faculty mentors
  • Hand power tools
  • 3D printers
  • Large machining equipment (CNC's, lathes...)

Running the Makeathon

To have it run as smoothly and as successful as possible, a good schedule should be planned so that there is enough time for the participants to think, plan, build and present their ideas in front of the judges. 

Dates and Times

  • Weekend long (Friday - Saturday or Sunday)
  • Give them an open ended task, dont make anything too specific, let them build anything they want to!
  • Friday - form teams, mingling, music, food, meet new people, brainstorm, learn prompt, choose what they build
  • Saturday - mentors/professors help with the build, student volunteers tell them where supplies located, judging takes place at end of day
  • Allow enough time for prototyping and brainstorming


Two different types of judging can be done, depending on your preference.

  • Students create 5 powerpoint slides based on a template and then present in front of the judges
  1. Context
  2. Need Statement
  3. How solution addresses the problem
  4. What you did this weekend
  5. Free Slide
  • There will be a vote for the crowd favorite

A few things to also take into consideration. Who will be the judges(if you choose to go with the powerpoint option) and what will the prize be(or will there even be a prize)? It should be noted that, usually, a competition like this without a big prize will attract more students because they are more interested about learning than winning.

Continuing Their Ideas

What happens after the Makeathon is over? If particpants enjoyed it, let them know what kinds of classes they should think about taking in the future to pursue their passions. Students should be given advice and help on what their next steps should be. It'll benefit them, and make them want to come back again next year.

Written By:

Cheyenne Raker, Matt Sheehy, Andrew Torrance, BG Akshaya, Matthew Belford, Stephen Annor-Wiafe