Competitive events and opportunities

Last updated September 28th, 2023

If you’re looking to apply your knowledge of tech and programming to gain awards and recognition, the best way to do so is through competitive events.

Aside from participating competitions through school, there are also a number of events organised every year by large organisations. These are typically extremely competitive, but carry significant prizes and prestige. They’re also a great opportunity for you to learn through working on a real project, and to connect with teammates from all over the world!

Hackathons and programming events

MIT Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge

Typical timeframe: January-February

Eligibility: 13 to 24-year-old individuals or teams

Organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, this event is an opportunity for you to submit tech-enabled solution to real-world problems. They require submissions to do one of the following:

  • Improve learning opportunities and outcomes for learners across their lifetimes, from early childhood on
  • Support financial and economic opportunities for all
  • Accelerate healthcare access and health outcomes, reducing and, ultimately, eliminating disparities in health
  • Take action to combat climate change and its impacts (Sustainability)
  • Address an unmet social, environmental, or economic need not covered in the four dimensions above.

You may submit concepts, prototypes, pilot projects, or fully operational nonprofit or for-profit organizations.

This event is extremely competitive, with even college students being eligible to compete, but high schoolers frequently walk away with prizes from their total pool of $180,000.

You can learn more about the competition here.

Apple Swift Student Challenge

Typical timeframe: March-April

Eligibility: 13 to 19-year-old individuals

This event organised by Apple every year requires you to submit ‘app playgrounds’ written in Swift, Apple’s own programming language for creating apps for Apple platforms. Winners receive exclusive recognition and perks from Apple, including one year of membership in the Apple Developer Program and a chance to be invited to attend a special event at Apple Park in Cupertino.

Note that you will require a macOS device or an iPad to create Swift playogrounds. Good places to get started with learning Swift and iOS development include Hacking with Swift, Kodeco, and Apple’s official documentation.

You can view examples of winners from the 2022 challenge here. You can view the official page for the challenge here.

Google Summer of Code

Typical timeframe: March-July

Eligibility: Anyone

Run by Google, this a global, online mentoring program focused on introducing new contributors to open source software development. GSoC contributors work on a 12+ week programming project with the guidance of mentors from their open source organization.

Unlike other entries on this list, this is not as much of a competitive event, however, this means it is a relatively accessible opportunity to learn programming from experts all around the world. We strongly recommend that students from eighth to tenth grade who have existing knowledge of programming with a particular language or framework, and who have significant time available, look into this opportunity.

The application to be a contributor typically opens in March. Coding begins in late May, and ends in late August to early September.

You can learn more about GSoC here.

Microsoft Imagine Cup Junior

Typical timeframe: January-June

Eligibility: 13-18-year-old individuals and teams

This competition organised by Microsoft requires teams of 1-6 develop an original concept addressing Microsoft’s AI for Good Initiatives and complete the Imagine Cup Junior PowerPoint submission template. Microsoft encourages that beginners participate, however, the more experience and knowledge you have, the better the chance you have of being one of the top global winners.

Registration typically opens in January, and submissions are normally due in mid-May. You can learn more about the event here.

Uber Global Hackathon

Typical timeframe: June-October

Eligibility: 13 to 18-year-old individuals and teams

This event run by Uber allows high school students to compete in three events:

  1. Product Design: ideate and design a new product that tackles a given problem. No coding experience is required.
  2. Data Analysis: analyze a given dataset to identify significant issues and develop tailored solutions to address them. Some coding experience is required.
  3. Coding: build a fully functional and innovative application that effectively addresses challenges within a given theme

Registration for this event typically opens in June to July and closes in August. You can learn more about the event here.

Government of India Junior Smart India Hackathon

Typical timeframe: October-December

Eligibility: Up to 10 teams of students from grades 6-12 from the school

Unlike the other events on this list, this event run by the Ministry of Education requires you to register through school. Up to 10 teams of 1-4 individuals are typically allowed, along with an adult mentor. This extremely competitive event sees thousands of teams from all over the country submit solutions under one of the 10+ tracks each year, ranging from energy to health. Teams typically need to first submit a detailed proposal to judges. If shortlisted, they are required to build a prototype and present it to experts from the government and industry.

The timeframe of this event varies, taking place from April-August in 2022 and October-December in 2023. You can check their website for up-to-date information here.

Technovation Girls Challenge

Typical timeframe: January to April

Eligibility: Girls aged 8-18

Girls aged 8-18 work in teams (of 1 to 5) to find a problem in their community and build a mobile app or AI project to help solve it. The event typically lasts twelve weeks.

Registration typically opens in October. You can learn more about the event here.

NASA SpaceApps

Typical timeframe: October

Eligibility: Up to 10 teams of students from grades 6-12 from the school

Considered the largest annual global hackathon, this extremely competitive event asks for ‘coders, scientists, designers, storytellers, makers, technologists, and innovators to use open data from NASA and its Space Agency Partners to create solutions to challenges we face on Earth and in space’.

You may participate through a local event hosted by the hackathon. You register as an individual and form a team through the event’s official channels. Teams work together over short periods over two or three days to build their solutions.

Registration typically opens in July. You can learn more about the event here.

Other places to find events

You can find online hackathons, many of which are open only to high school students, on Devpost. Here, you can remotely collaborate with teammates from all over the world on large international hackathons. You can also find hackathon opportunities on Major League Hacking (

Open Innovation Events

These are events in which the submission of technical projects is allowed, but not necessarily required.

Conrad Challenge

Typical timeframe: August-January

Eligibility: Teams of two 13 to 18-year-olds

This international event, which has thousands of participants each year, requires teams of two to five students to ‘apply science, technology, and innovation’ to solve problems under the categories of Aerospace & Aviation, Cyber-Technology & Security, Energy & Environment and Health & Nutrition.

Teams are formed from August to early November; work typically takes place from November to January, and the top teams present at the finals in April. You can learn more about the challenge here.

World Series of Innovation

Typical timeframe: September-February

Eligibility: 13 to 24-year-old individuals and teams

Organised by the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship each year, the WSI consists of multiple challenges sponsored by large companies such as EY and Mastercard. Teams of 1-4 work on challenges released in September, and submit proposals in December. The top 10 teams in each challenge submit pitches in February.

The competition places higher emphasis on developing a business model and market strategy. Having a working prototype or real-world implementation may be a significant boost to your submission.

You can learn more about the event here.

Junior Academy of the New York Academy of Sciences

Typical timeframe: Year-round

Eligibility: 13 to 17-year-olds

Eligible students apply to be a member of the Junior Academy (TJA) of the NYAS, which is a global network connected through the Academy’s platform. On a seasonable basis each year, multiple challenges ranging global issues are launched, and members of TJA from all over the world work together in teams to tackle those challenges. Winning solutions frequently involve technology at some level. Since 2021, TJA has typically had a higher acceptance rate than earlier years, however, the application process is still competitive.

You can learn more about and apply to TJA here.

Academic events

These events are the gold standard of achievement in computer science at the national level. However, they are considered to be extremely difficult, and will likely require significant preparation. Success in olympiads is looked upon highly favourably by colleges, both domestic ones (including IITs), as well as the top foreign ones (in the US, UK, Singapore, etc.).

Note: the olympiads here are unrelated to the ones conducted by SOF.

Indian Computing Olympiad

Typical timeframe: November-February

Eligibility: Any school student

The Indian Computing Olympiad is a nationwide competition organized annually by the Indian Association for Research in Computing Science. It aims to test knowledge of computer science through algorithms and computer programming. It is used to select the team of four students to represent India at the International Olympiad for Informatics (IOI).

At the national level, you may compete in the first round through two events:

  1. The Zonal Informatics Olympiad (ZIO), a written exam held across the country. This is typically held in December
  2. The Zonal Computing Olympiad (ZCO), a programming exam held across the country. The languages allowed are C, C++, Java and Python. This is typically held in January.

Students can write either ZIO or ZCO or both and qualify through either exam for the second round, the Indian National Olympiad in Informatics (INOI). The only programming language allowed for INOI is C++. It is typically held in February.

Medals are also awarded for performance at each stage of the event.

The event is extremely competitive and requires significant preparation to learn linguistics. You can learn more about the event and access resources for it here.

Panini Linguistics Olympiad

Typical timeframe: May

Eligibility: Individuals in the Junior (grades 6-8) and Senior (grades 9-12) categories

While not inherently a part of computer science, computational linguistics is a closely related field which students with an aptitude for computer science might have an affinity for. The Panini Linguistics Olympiad is the Indian national program for selection and training of the candidates who represent India at the International Linguistics Olympiad (IOL). The competition is coordinated by Microsoft Research Labs India, International Institute of Information Technology Hyderabad, JNU Delhi and the University of Mumbai.

The event is extremely competitive and requires significant preparation to learn linguistics. You can learn more about the event and access resources for it here.

IRIS National Fair

Typical timeframe: October-January

Eligibility: 13 to 17-year-olds

The IRIS National Fair is a national science fair in India that takes place every year. In the context of technology, eligible projects may include original research papers in areas such as machine learning, original hardware and software creations, and other such scientific projects.

Projects are submitted in September-October. The national fair typically takes place in January. The top students are selected to represent India at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA in May, which is considered one of the most prestigious high school science competitions in the world.

You can learn about the event here.

Email in case you have any queries about the society or the website.