VIP Newsletter 1

Avatar for Matthew StanciuMatthew Stanciu

This is the first edition of a new VIP newsletter that I hope to use to keep in touch with folks. I sent this to a group of ~60 alumni, faculty, and sponsors. If you want to be included in future editions, email me or DM me on Discord and I'll add you to the list.

Hi there,

I’m Matthew, the President of Purdue Hackers. You’re receiving this email because you’re someone we want to stay in touch with—alumni, sponsor, faculty, etc. This is the first edition of the Purdue Hackers VIP Newsletter, where we share what our students are up to. ✨

We've intentionally cast a wide net in order to reconnect with as many people as we can; if you don’t want to receive these, use this link to unsubscribe.

☕ Catching up

If you’ve been out of the loop: Purdue Hackers has radically transformed recently. Two years ago today, we had just over 100 people in our Discord; today, we have over 2,000, and a strong, vibrant, & friendly community has formed. We started running a mini-hackathon every Friday night, called Hack Night, with 80 attendees on average. Our workshops have encouraged folks to ship uniquely creative projects. Students have made their closest friends in our programs & pushed each other to become the best versions of themselves.

When I’m alone, I tend to stagnate. Purdue Hackers allowed me to surround myself with people who constantly pushed me to learn and create. Without Purdue Hackers, I never would have learned Rust, designed the club flag, or taught workshops about generative art.

— Trey Cluff, graduated December 2023

Last year, I wrote about how I think of Purdue Hackers like a startup, which the CS department featured. Give it a read if you want to get a sense of what we look like these days!

🌛 Hack Night

Hack Night is our mini-hackathon every Friday night. Hackers gather to make friends, build creative technical projects, and hang out & have fun. The first event ran in September 2022, and since then it’s grown to be a real force on campus, with multiple events running within Hack Night and 80 attendees on average every week.

Hack Night 4.0 ran on February 16th, and it was radiant. We introduced three new things:

  • 🛂 Passports: Handmade, meticulously-crafted, NFC-enabled passports. More below!
  • 🌟 Reading Circles: Like reading groups, reading circles make an agenda of topics to learn, then discuss & collaborate at Hack Night. Two reading circles meet weekly at Hack Night: Programming Languages & Conlanging
  • 🌃 Midnight demos: After the countdown to 0~0~0, share what you've been working on. Can be anything, including nontechnical projects & projects made outside of Hack Night!

Folks at recent Hack Nights have built incredible projects, including an iOS app companion to BoilerExams, a meter-tall Purdue Hackers sign, and a Nix config for a Factorio server.

One of my favorite parts of Hack Night is the badges: every week, we design & manufacture collectibles that we give away at Hack Night. Each collectible (“badge”) is laser engraved & cut with the name & date of its respective Hack Night event. I’m amazed that we’ve been able to source, design, and manufacture 80 of these every week for over a year.

🛂 Passports

We’ve been looking for a creative way for people to be “card-carrying members” of Purdue Hackers and have a physical keepsake from their time in college. 3 months ago, we began prototyping Purdue Hackers passports, and last month we began mass-producing them.

View a 1-minute tour of a passport

Every passport has an NFC sticker embedded in its cover. Hackers design their own data page, then assemble their own passports at hour-long passport-making ceremonies, which run every two weeks at Hack Night. We then write to their NFC sticker with an iOS app we made. Finally, hackers stamp their passports with a new stamp every week. Over 40 hackers have made a passport so far.

The embedded NFC stickers open up a beautiful world of infrastructure. The first that came to mind for many was a “Sign in with passport” API—which community member Jack Hogan built.

View a 30-second demo of the “sign in with passport” API

Community members are already building amazing things on top of this API, which we’re excited to share with you soon.

🚢 Recent ships we love

Special Mention: Check out this super cool ASCII art of the Purdue Hackers logo made by @Infinidoge!

📣 Our asks

  • If you’re an alum: Please consider covering pizza or badge materials for our next Hack Night. If we haven’t spoken in a while, please also say hi!
  • If you represent a company: Please consider sponsoring us to help maintain our programs. We’re trying to raise $6,000 this year to fund student projects like the sign & passports, and feed 80 people & manufacture badges every week. Our students are uniquely talented & you’ll get a high ROI.
  • If you're Purdue faculty: Please consider spreading the word about Purdue Hackers to your students. You can view all upcoming Hack Nights and workshops on our events site.

For everyone: please reply to this email with feedback on this newsletter. I want to make this something you’re excited to read every month, and I welcome your suggestions for how we can make it better.

With 💛,