Princeton Beats Out 13 Schools to Win Facebook’s College Hackathon

Overcoming stiff competition from MIT and Waterloo, Princeton won this year’s Facebook College Hackathon finals. Over the past few months, Facebook conducted run-off competitions at fourteen colleges across the United States and Canada, and this Friday held the finals at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto. The Princeton team was the only one comprised mainly of women, and their winning project Color Me Bold allowed users to submit a photo of an outfit and receive instant, algorithmic fashion suggestions for how to improve its color scheme. Watch as we interview some of the top teams, play around on Facebook’s famous Ripstick skateboards, and talk with the winners about whether they’ll be turning their project into a startup.

My personal favorite was MIT’s 2toBrowse, a Chrome extension that allowed two people on separate computers to both control active cursors and collaboratively browse the web. One users installs the extension, receives a special URL, and another can click it to instantly begin browsing together without having to download anything. The extension could help people teach their parents how to use a specific website, allow customer service departments to walk customers through solutions to problems, or provide entertainment.

Other high quality projects included Georgia Tech’s Skoole, an on-campus peer-to-peer SMS-based textbook exchange, and a cloud-hosted security system from the University of Illinois team that lets users access their personal browser settings and files from public computers using the proximity of their mobile phone as the key. Waterloo produced the most technical project, a JavaScript MapReduce distributed computing library.

The College Hackathon, also known as the Camp Hackathon, serves as a powerful recruiting tool for Facebook. By finding top young engineers and bringing them to the headquarters, Facebook increases the chance they’ll want to work for the company once they graduate — or drop-out like Facebook’s founders. Though I must say, the $500 per team member grand prize seems a bit small considering the company is preparing for a $100 billion IPO. At least last year’s winners got a summer internship at Facebook.