Student Hackathon Added

Students get to meet and work with experts and influencers in food, space, ag, and other future food systems in Space for Food's student hackathon.

Are you a student into space exploration and development, cellular and microbial ag, food product development for innovative new food ingredients, controlled environment growing, circular bio-economies, or regenerative life support systems for people and food production?

Whether you're deep into your studies or just thinking about the area, the Space for Food student hackathon allows you to collaborate with peers from your school and many others, meet and work with academic research and industry experts, practice solving real world problems, and have fun building your network and reputation.



If the controlled environment ag, cellular and microbial food tech, and other future food systems are going to really change the world, we need talent ready to work in them. The Yield Lab Institute's Space for Food student hackathon builds relationships, skills, and confidence in becoming part of the ecosystem of talent creating, operating, and building on our future food systems.

Who can participate:

Each team will have 1 or 2 team leaders responsible for team member recruitment, organizing the approach, and communicating with the hackathon organizers. SFF will provide a mentor for each team.

Teams are in one of two divisions:

  • Pre-College: teams consisting only of students finishing grades 7-12 in May/June 2021

  • College: teams of undergraduates from either 4 year, 2 year, or technical schools. They may invite pre-college students to join them

We’ll accept applications for teams until 11:59pm Central US time on Tuesday May 25. Up to 20 teams will be selected to participate based on the diverse and interdisciplinary nature of their members, the number of team members, and the completeness of their application. For those whose teams aren’t selected, at the June 2 kickoff event, the 20 selected teams will be able to recruit participants not yet affiliated with a team to their team to increase the capacity and broaden the perspective of their team, which will help them on demo day.

Graduates and post-graduates can participate as team mentors, subject matter experts for teams to consult (ideation, validation, domain expertise, or presentation prep), or as other volunteers to make the hackathon work.

Schools and associations that support education and employment training in the fields of CEA, food science, microbial and cultured foods, and space and life support tech can also provide mentors, outreach, and other support. In exchange they can feature their organization and schools in a virtual career expo at the demo day on 6/13.


  • 4/13 - the Hackathon was announced at Space for Food event

  • 5/4 - team registration opens at Space for Food event

  • 6/2 - background material presentations, teams finalized and announced, and kickoff announcing the challenges to be addressed.

  • 6/8-6/11 - teams work asynchronously and remotely to develop a solution to one of the challenges using a Space for Food provided virtual platform. Each team will have a mentor to help them with the process and a persistent virtual workroom for their use. Each day the teams will also have access to subject matter experts via office hours to gain specific knowledge, receive feedback, and build relationships with industry and academic leaders.

  • 6/13 - demo day and awards, including virtual career fair of resources for students in future food system careers.

Format and Details:

The format will be virtual and teams are encouraged to have members from multiple schools and disciplines (such as ag, food, engineering, design, business, etc.). Several specific challenges will be issued at the kick-off, such as:

  • Propose a fully enclosed simple organism growing system for food production (no animals or complex plants) for space and a food insecure place on Earth

  • Propose a fully enclosed food processing system that takes the output from cellular and microbial ag systems and turns them into storable and ready to eat food products

  • Propose a system to turn space station resources like Martian/Lunar soil, astronaut and space system waste, and other available resources into food or inputs for food systems

  • Propose a circular growing system of any combination of organisms that can fit in a space 65 cubic meters or less - judged by how many it could feed over time with the least power and resources.

Each team will present their proposed solution to the judges in a pre-recorded or live session and all teams will have their presentations recognized on Space for Food’s website.


Separate awards for the two divisions will be awarded based on judging by academic and industry experts:

  • All teams will receive feedback on their idea and presentation from academic and industry experts throughout the process and from the judges

  • Select teams will receive 1:1 time with 2 or more academic and industry experts to discuss their project and career paths

  • At least one team from each division (Pre-College and College) will receive a Judge’s award of a virtual experience for their team in a food, ag, space facility with experts in the above fields

Want to participate? Email to get involved!