The MIT Techfair Team

MIT’s biggest hackathon of the year is set to kick off today. We’re talking 20 hours of coding, over $5,000 in prizes and, every college student’s dream, free food–dinner, breakfast and lunch.

The student-run MIT Techfair has partnered with Palo Alto’s Palantir to present HackMIT, a hackathon where “anything goes.” Web apps, mobile apps and hardware hacks are all welcome, the only catch is that the hacks must be computer-related. Even better, projects will not be judged solely on skill, but rather creativity, technical difficulty, polish and usefulness.

Jack Zhou of Palantir will jump-start the festivities at 9 p.m. in the MIT Stata Center, and the hacking will continue until 1 p.m. on Sunday. Teams will present, keeping their fingers crossed for the coveted first-place prize of $1,500 and automatic entry into Greylock Hackfest 2. Second place wins $1,000, third place banks $500 and all three of the top groups will be invited to a Rough Draft Ventures pitch meeting.

HackMIT will also feature a “Rookie Division,” meaning those with two or less years of program experience can enter to win $1,000, $500 or $250 of their own. Unfortunately, the event is currently sold out, but interested students can add themselves to the waitlist.

The hackathon will lead into Techfair 2013 on Monday, February 4, a “trade-show style” career fair featuring over 60 companies and 30 student exhibitors in MIT’s Rockwell Cage from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Resumes are told to be left at home. Instead, visitors should be spending their time checking out booths, and actually learning about the presenters, their technology and workplaces. As MIT Techfair writes:

Our mission is to bring technology to the recruiting process. We believe that, by bringing tech demos, excitement, and fun to the average career fair we can create an experience that benefits all parties involved.

The Techfair will close with–what else?–an Afterparty complete with Microsoft Kinect games and mocktails.

Thankfully for those who splash too much juice back at the Afterparty, Techfair’s TechTalks don’t kick off until Friday, February 8, at 4 p.m. Students, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts are invited to MIT’s Stata Center to hear from Kayak CTO Paul English, Palantir Senior Engineer Ari Gesher, Nest Labs VP of Technology Yoky Matsuoka and Meraki Co-Founder John Bicket. To register, click here.

Who needs a Superbowl (not these guys) when all this innovation is going on?