BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Florida Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design in Palm Bay will host the Space Coast's first Hard Tech Hackathon this weekend.

Students and young engineers will be dealt a series of problems and told to come up with solutions involving aerospace, defense, hardware and manufacturing.

What You Need To Know

  • The Hard Tech Hackathon will be held Saturday and Sunday at Florida Tech’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Innovative Design

  • Competitors will try to come up with solutions to aerospace, defense, hardware and manufacturing challenges

  • Among the competitors will be Melbourne start-up founders Pascal Dao and Josias Moukpe of Make Print

  • The first-place winner in the Hackathon will receive $3,000, and second place is worth $2,000 

“We are going to have folks from academia there, people from the military, and folks with engineering and design backgrounds that build new products,” said Spencer MacDonald of the Florida Tech Hackathon.

A local tech start-up team is competing for cash prizes and potentially linking up with future customers.

Pascal Dao and Josias Moukpe, Florida Tech grads and co-founders of Melbourne based software company Make Prints, will compete for cash prizes and possibly connect with customers.

Their company is growing, but it started small when they were undergrads and bought 3D printers.

“We were making money making parts for people in the dorm,” Dao said.

Now they are based at Groundswell Startups, a high-tech incubator, hub and community workspace.

Their focus is on 3D printing, serving small shops and entrepreneurs whose goal is to make 3D-printed prototypes used in advanced manufacturing.

"After the (COVID-19) pandemic, we really saw the demand for something like this. We saw the gaps in manufacturing and supply chains,” Dao said.

One local company they’ve helped is called Swift Paws, which produces field pulleys designed for a home chase game for dogs.

“You can make a small batch of prototypes quickly, and you don’t need a huge manufacturing or supply chain set up,” Dao said. “The cue for the maker space was, like, 20 long, and they were like, 'Wow, how am I going to print this?' And they would say, 'Hey, can you print this for me real quick?'

“'Oh yeah, sure we can do it at this rate,' and we would print it for them,” Moukpe said.

This team has entered the Hackathon to show off skills and potentially to cross paths with even more customers to build their business. Dao and Moukpe also want to pass along their experience to competitors hoping to follow in their footsteps.

“We have a vision for Make Print, and the faster we can act on our ideas, the faster we can test them, the faster we can learn,” Dao said.

The Hackathon is a two-day event, beginning May 18.

The first-place winner gets $3,000, and the second-place prize is $2,000.