Aaryaman and I will spend the summer at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) campus. Why? No distractions, more time to talk to brilliant professors, and an opportunity to immerse ourselves in building the big project that we've been dreaming of for months.
But then, we had a thought - why limit the opportunity to just ourselves? Why don't we also invite cool people from around the country/world to come and build their projects here too? The cost of living is incredibly affordable, with luxury apartments available for less than $500. And with enough participants, there is potential for discounted or even free food, thanks to @UIUCFreeFood.
That's when we came up with Midwest Hackers.
Ladies and gentlemen, imagine this: the sun is shining bright, the breeze is cool and refreshing, and you're surrounded by some of the most brilliant minds in the country. You're building something incredible together - something that you've dreamed of for months, maybe even years. The excitement in the air is palpable, and you know you're on the verge of making something truly special.
This is the experience that Midwest Hackers offers. An opportunity unlike any other, where you'll have the chance to go deep into your work, surrounded by a community of like-minded individuals who are just as passionate and driven as you are. Hackathons, hiking, retreats at a luxurious multimillion-dollar mansion, and writing sessions, podcasting and filmmaking studios, morning runs, and talks featuring artists, Nobel laureates, entrepreneurs, NASA and Bell Labs engineers, and more - the possibilities are endless.
Why UIUC? It's simple. During the summer, the campus will be a sanctuary for innovation, free from distractions. You will be in close proximity to world-class professors, have access to state-of-the-art facilities, and brilliant students all within a one-mile radius. Not to forget, if you want to launch a product, you already have a Beta testing community of over 70,000 people through the UIUC subreddit (which is one of the top 5 most active subreddits in the world!).
What about the cost of living? You might think that such an experience would come with a hefty price tag, but that's where you'd be wrong. Housing in Urbana-Champaign is incredibly affordable, with luxury apartments available for subleasing at $500 or less, which is significantly cheaper than renting an apartment in SF or any major metropolitan city. And if we gather enough passionate people, we can even provide you with cheap or free food, thanks to @UIUCFreeFood.
This campus has a rich history of science and innovation, being home to the inventors of the transistor, LED, the first graphical web browser, Playboy, LLVM, computer music, and YouTube. In addition, five members of the Paypal mafia - Max Levchin from Affirm, Luke Nosek from Founders Fund, Jeremy Stoppelman from Yelp, and Steve Chen and Jawed Karim from YouTube - all studied at UIUC. Silicon Valley is powered by the Midwestens hackers and engineers. Marc Andreesen was right when he said, “Silicon Valley has always been a hybrid of 1950’s Midwestern engineer tinkerer nerd and 1960’s tie-died acid-dropping artsy hipster.” By the way, Marc also went here but he hates the school (more on that below).
It has an environment that fosters innovation and growth. Which is why we are going to be here this summer, building what we care about.
If you have the drive to do something truly different, this is the place to be this summer.
Work on your projects, start a company, make new connections, and learn something new. This is your chance to think differently, push the boundaries, and build cool shit.
Don't miss this opportunity to be part of something truly extraordinary. Midwest Hackers awaits you. So come on down to UIUC and let's create something amazing together.
If you want to join us, please fill this out.
Q: Is this initiative affiliated with the university?
A: No, this initiative is not affiliated with the university. However, we are excited to utilize the resources and community available on campus to create an exceptional experience for all participants. This initiative is open to anyone who is interested in joining, regardless of their affiliation with the university.
Q: What is the duration of the program?
A: The program runs from May 2023 to August 2023. However, you are welcome to stay for more or leave earlier, depending on you what you want to do.
Q: What is the application process?
A: The application process is available here.
Q: Is there a minimum or maximum age requirement?
A: There is no minimum age requirement, but we do have a maximum age limit of 969 years old, which is how long Methuselah lived.
Q: What kind of projects are suitable for this program?
A: Any project that makes you feel alive is suitable for this program. Personally, we will be working on software/hardware, filmmaking, music, writing, and podcasting projects. People may also want to start companies, write books, conduct scientific research, tinker and explore ideas, build rockets, make movies and music, and get inspiration from working with professors and others in the community. As long as your project does not violate any laws, you are free to work on any type of project that interests you. GET EXCITED!!!
Q: "I don't know what to work on but I still want to come."
A: That's fine. You are free to do anything you want. You can join someone else's project or simply explore for a bit. We're sure you will find inspiration one way or the other.
Q: What is the cost of participation?
A: There is no cost to participate. However, you will need to arrange housing and food (more on that below).
Q: What kind of housing arrangements are available?
A: Many students leave for the summer, leaving their apartments empty. You will be subleasing their apartments for the summer months through various online portals or even through some of our friends.
Q: What is the average price of housing?
A: Housing is really cheap. People are willing to give half-price because they'd rather make something than nothing. Typically, you can find apartments for around $400-$700 per month
Q: "I'm a young person and would love to come but don't have money for rent/food."
A: We're also young people and don't have unlimited money. However, let us know and we can help you find a grant.
Q: What is the schedule of events and activities?
A: There is no set schedule. This is a time for focus and an opportunity to follow our obsessions. We will have meetups, work sessions, talks, get-togethers, retreats, and other activities, but this will be on a go-basis.
Q: What kind of equipment and resources will be provided?
A: You can name anything, and we can probably find it. This is a big campus with lots of resources, so we can help you find pretty much anything you need.
Q: What is the expected level of commitment from participants?
A: The level of commitment is up to you. We won't babysit you at all. This is an opportunity to experience what it's like to follow your obsessions and trust that something will come of it. Follow your intuition and create something you're proud of.
Q: What are the anticipated outcomes of the program?
A: The goal is to help participants achieve focus and work on projects that they are intrinsically interested in, without the pressure of competition or following the latest trends. While some participants may build companies and raise money by the end of the program, others may finish writing a book or conducting research in their field. Some may have a personal epiphany about their life's work or discover a new direction, while others may form meaningful friendships and partnerships with fellow participants and members of the community, such as professors. Ultimately, the outcome of the program is for participants to take agency in their lives and follow their obsessions.
Q: What is the reason behind Marc Andreesen's dislike for UIUC?
A: The exact reason for Marc Andreesen's dislike for UIUC is not known to us. However, there are stories that after he created Mosaic, the first graphical web browser, the university tried to claim ownership and sue him for it. If we were in his place, we would probably feel the same way. Nonetheless, Marc still has an appreciation for the Midwestern Hacker/Engineer culture and we've heard he's funded the startups of UIUC students.