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March 4th 2023

SFU Software Systems Student Society
presents their 7th annual hackathon!

Applications close February 17

RootHacks 2023 Logo, The tree with clouds floating above

What is RootHacks?

RootHacks is this year’s iteration of the annual SystemsHacks event, a 12-hour beginner-oriented hackathon run by the SFU Software Systems Student Society. SystemsHacks has been organized annually since 2017, with over 200 participants each year. Our goal is to facilitate an encouraging and comfortable environment for beginner hackers to learn new skills. The name “RootHacks” reflects a broadly plant-based theme, and we hope to inspire participants to consider how their personal roots can offer them a unique perspective when building their project.

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12 Hours

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200+ Participants

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SFU Surrey

RootHacks logo

Software Systems Student Society

Software Systems is a program in Simon Fraser University’s School of Computing Science. Based in the Surrey Campus, it aims to teach more applied aspects of computer science so that graduates will develop a foundational understanding of industry skills. The Software Systems Student Society (SSSS) is the student unions representing the interests of the Software Systems student body. We organize events to encourage making valuable peer connections and supplement the academic experience.

A group shot from SystemsHacks 2020: LifeHacks at SFU Surrey
A 3D render of VR goggles
A leaf cutout effect for the fun fact card

Fun Fact

The fastest-growing plant is the world is Burmese bamboo (Bambusa burmanica). It can grow up to 91 cm (35 in) per day. That’s almost 4 cm (1.5”) an hour. You could actually watch it grow.

Past Hackathons

Quackathon 2022 banner

2022 - Quackathon

Create a project broadly duck-based that'll make the judges quack up! Create a duck mascot, identify ducks with AI, and more; you're only limited by your imagination! Think up new and innovative ways to insert a duck wherever into your project!

ScuffedHacks 2021 banner

2021 - Scuffed Hacks

Challenge yourself by finding new ways to apply tools, technologies, and programming languages! You don't have to worry if your project is assembled with tape, glue, or coffee, because that's the theme of this hackathon! Whether you're using Excel as a programming language or controlling drones using Scratch, this hackathon is all about doing the unconventional!

A leaf cutout effect for the fun fact card

Fun Fact

The word banana comes from the Arabic word banan and means finger and was given because of the fingerlike fruit. And a cluster of bananas is called a hand.

A 3D render of a floating laptop



A hackathon is an event where teams of 2-4 develop (or “hack”) a project in a short period of time. Hackathons are often 24 hours or a weekend, but SystemsHacks is 12 hours to make the experience less imposing for beginners. Hackathons are an opportunity to experiment with new tools, or try new ideas. They are also a great change to make lasting connections with fellow students, mentors, and industry professionals.


You are not expected to have any experience to participate; everyone starts somewhere! The goal of the event is to learn something new; don’t worry if the final result is not particularly polished. Mentors will be available to help you work through questions that you may have, and we encourage you and your teammates to teach each other as well. Just remember, the primary goal of a hackathon is to learn!


The theme can be interpreted loosely in whatever way you see fit; it is just a prompt to get you thinking. Your project does not necessarily have to be directly related to plants or roots, so get creative!


If you already have a team in mind, each teammate must register individually for RootHacks. You do not have to notify the organizers of your team before the event, but projects must be submitted by a group of 2-4 people.


You certainly aren’t the only one, many first-time hackers find themselves in the same situation! On the morning of the event, there will be a team formation event. We will ask all participants without a team to gather somewhere, where you can all form teams on the spot to ensure everyone can participate.


Mentors can answer questions and help fix any technical issues that you may have, but they may not directly contribute to your project. They can also help you elaborate your idea in the early stages of the event, so don’t hesitate to ask if they have time to chat about your concept!