The HACK letters are a set of carefully engineered sculptures that announce the arrival of HackMIT--MIT's biggest hackathon. True to the spirit of MIT hacks, we secretly installed these letters on the MIT campus overnight as a big, bold reminder that HackMIT was about to take MIT by storm.
I designed and built each free-standing letter to withstand a week of being on display in not only in public, but also in fickle fall Boston weather. Each letter is a hollow foamcore shell that is painted on the front, and has as simple LED-strip circuit mounted on the surface to create a stunning faux-neon sign effect.
I modeled each letter in SolidWorks by importing the original HACK logo and then rotating each letter and adding an extruded cut along the bottom edge to create not only a flat base for the letters to balance on but also to preserve the tilted logo look unique to the 2016 re-branding.
Each letter is made to be roughly human scale (4 feet tall) to promote active physical interaction with the letters.
Each letter is constructed as a hollow shell with walls and faces of foamcore sheets. I designed these letters to be light enough for easy transportation, but also sturdy enough to encourage extensive physical interaction. Inside the letters, I reinforced the wall-face connection with a series of interior gussets so that the letters would be strong, despite being thin shells of foamcore.
In the 4 days preceding HackMIT, I would reveal one letter at a time: Tuesday night we would install the H, Wednesday we added the A...and so on until all 4 letters were lighting up the night on the front steps of the MIT student center.
We chose this method for revealing the letters and publicly installing this sculpture project in order to build up excitement as the event drew closer. The steps of the MIT student center is the hub of student life, as most students will pass this area several times a day on their way to class or back to the dorms.
The letters were a huge hit during the week before HackMIT, so we used them at the entrance to the main hacking area once HackMIT actually started. In this picture, the human scale of the letters is very clear and it becomes more apparent why many hackers were attracted to playing with and interacting with the big, friendly-looking letters.
I designed these letters to be big, sturdy, and friendly so that hackers could have fun physically engaging with the letters. Over the course of HackMIT I observed many students and hackers at HackMIT that posed with the letters, moved them around, and otherwise goofed around with putting this whimsical sculpture project installation in different configurations.
Here, the clean-up crew is having fun racing around campus while "wearing" the hollow letters over their heads and torsos.
Standing at around 4'x4' for each letter, these letters were great for posing with for photographs. Here you can see that the letters are not only strong enough so that several people can lean on them, but they are also massive enough that several people can interact with each letter at once. I designed these letters to be human-scale so that they wouldn't be over big and intimidating, but also not so small that they would go unnoticed.