A Space for Design x Tech: Design Den

4 min readFeb 24, 2019


Since its founding, Bitcamp has always considered itself a design-friendly hackathon. In the past, this has been embodied by our design competition, Colorwar, which is one of the biggest Bitcamp events. However, while Colorwar allows designers a recess from participating in a hacker team, it does not resonate with designers as much as it could. It only takes one hour of the hackathon, which makes designers who are inexperienced hackers wonder what they would do for the rest of the time, and its rapid fire format doesn’t allow competitors to use the iterative design thinking process that design students learn in school. While it is an incredibly fun and exciting event and we have no intention of getting rid of it, we want Bitcamp to be a truly welcoming place to designers new to the tech scene.

Who is this program for?

If you’re a student designer from any design background or discipline, including user experience design, motion design, and graphic design, regardless of technical or programming experience, then the Design Den is for you. We want designers with an open mind, a willingness to work with new people, and a passion for creating new things.

Why should you participate?

Participating in Bitcamp as a designer is an opportunity to develop your portfolio in a creative environment and get feedback from professionals! You will work with design and engineering students from different backgrounds. Additionally, Bitcamp has workshops that teach technical skills like programming and hardware, opportunities to network with companies, and all kinds of fun events. Your Bitfolio will become a whole collection of new projects that you can polish and put in your portfolio.

How do I take part?

Since Design Den is a specialized program, the number of participants will be restricted. Don’t let this stop you from applying! We take in applicants of all skill levels!

To apply for Design Den —

  1. Complete the general Bitcamp application by clicking the “Hack” signpost at bit.camp.
  2. Then, complete the Design Den application by submitting your portfolio and information here. All applications are due by Sunday, March 31st at 11:59PM!
  3. Stay tuned for more specifics on the application soon, and mark your calendar for April 12–14, 2019 — designers will be admitted based on their portfolio submissions.

Why does this matter?

At Bitcamp, we believe that design is important. Technology is absolutely central to the lives and livelihoods of everyone on the planet, and design is one of the few systems of thinking that allows a small group of creators to make something that actually helps such a wide variety of people. In other words, products that take advantage of design talent are generally better products. But hackathons, one of the major ways that tech students learn how to build things, don’t teach participants how to do this. We want the projects that come out of Bitcamp to be as thoughtful as real projects.

What can we do about this?

We can create a program tailored specifically to designers that lasts throughout the hackathon! Design students can meet recruiters from tech companies, learn tech skills, and have an opportunity to practice their design skills in an environment more like the real world, while the engineers who work with them can learn from them and be in an environment that is more like an actual tech company. The sponsoring companies can meet design students, learn what schools and programs they come from, and make connections that could bring more resources into underfunded design schools.

How do we make this happen?

This year at Bitcamp, we are allowing students to participate specifically as designers. These designers will function like mentors: teams can request a designer with a specific set of skills and be matched with someone who can help them through a task such as creating a logo for their product, theming their website, or conducting research to figure out the best way to lay out their interface. Designers will work with many teams over the course of the hackathon and build a Bitfolio of the designs that they create, which will be judged for prizes.

Bitcamp is a place for exploration. You will have 36 hours to delve into your curiosities, learn something new, and make something awesome. With world-class mentors and 1,200+ fellow campers, you’re in for an amazing time. Whether you’re a seasoned hacker or completely new to the world of hacking, we’ll have something for you. Bitcamp 2019 is on April 12–14th at the Xfinity Center. If you’re ready for an adventure, we’ll see you by the campfire!




A place of exploration and the largest hackathon at UMD. See you by the campfire for Bitcamp 2021 Virtually!