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Homeland Security Build-A-Thon

The Border Community – Homeland Security Build-A-Thon is a New Mexico-focused event for software developers to collaborate and develop border community solutions. It is a weekend build-a-thon where coders will come together, form teams, and build app prototypes or features related to the theme of New Mexico homeland security.

The goal is to develop an innovative communications application to allow citizens along the US/Mexico border to share real-time information confidentially with the NM Emergency Operations Center to a secure database.

Participants will pitch ideas to enhance reporting and responsiveness to community needs along the southern border of New Mexico, with potential for statewide expansion. After a keynote presentation, participants will form teams to work together on a prototype. Everyone will have the weekend to build and develop a prototype to be presented on Sunday to a panel of judges.

Finally, the weekend will culminate with an awards ceremony, with cash prizes and scholarships!

The Border Community – Homeland Security Build-A-Thon will run from September 13-15, 2019. If you’re a developer and would like to participate, buy your ticket via Eventbrite.


The Border Community – Homeland Security Build-A-Thon is a hackathon style competition. Competitors will form teams and build an app in 40 hours. Individuals on winning teams will walk away with prizes, including a first place prize of $500 per person cash or $1000 scholarship, second place will receive $375 per person cash or $750 scholarship, third place will receive $125 per person cash or $250 scholarship.

When & Where

Opening Night – Friday, September 13 at CNM Workforce Training Center
5:30pm – Networking
6:00pm – Welcome and keynote by a senior representative from the State of NM
6:30pm – Announce theme details and brainstorm
7:00pm – Pitch ideas
7:30pm – Form teams
8:00pm – Open to start submitting code

Work Day

Saturday, September 14 at CNM Workforce Training Center

8am – Coffee, burritos, setup
8:30am – Get to coding
5pm – Wrap it up, move to an overnight space

Closing Day

Sunday, September 15 8am to 3pm at CNM Workforce Training Center

8am – Get it started
12pm – Submit code, talk with judges
3pm – Present to peers
4pm – Award ceremony


Teams of 1-4 can be formed with a mix of junior, mid, or senior developers. Teams can be arranged prior to the event. Companies may send a team of professional developers, but collaboration with junior developers is strongly encouraged!

  • Select a tech stack based on a core-language (see rules).
  • 40 hours to create new app that address the focus theme.
  • Projects will be judged by panel of senior developers and NM State Homeland Security staff.
  • Click here for a full list of rules, guidelines, and technical documentation.


Registration is required via Eventbrite
$10 – Students (must have .edu email address)

$20 – Individuals

$40 – Team of 3-4

$40 – At the door individual pricing

All proceeds go towards the cost of food.


We don’t want the entrance fee to be a burden. If you can’t afford the registration costs and would like to apply for a scholarship, please contact us.


Can I code in any language?

You may write in any language you want, but come prepared to explain your decisions to the judges. (see Rules and Guidelines for more information)

When/Where can I hack? Do I have to only code at the event's location?

Coders will have access to classrooms at the CNM Workforce Training Center from 8-5 on Saturday. Since the location is not 24/7, you can meet with your team on your own whenever you’d like. On location we will have plenty of space, a reliable Wi-Fi connection, opportunities to meet with a mentor to help architect your project, and food – breakfast, lunch and snacks. The more time spent on location the better opportunities to network and meet people in the community.

Will you feed me?

Yes, we will provide snacks and refreshments on Friday, breakfast and lunch on Saturday, breakfast on Sunday, and plenty of snacks, water, and coffee in between.

What do I need to bring?

Yourself, laptop and charger, cellphone and charger. Please don’t bring: Firearms or other weapons, alcohol, illegal drugs, soldering or similar equipment, animals.

What can I win?

Cash prizes and scholarships for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners include:

  • 1st place: $500 per person cash or $1,000 per person scholarship to the New Mexico Institution of Higher Education or eligible coding bootcamp of the recipient’s choice, and opportunity to be part of application development process.
  • 2nd place: $375 per person cash or $750 per person scholarship to the New Mexico Institution of Higher Education or eligible coding bootcamp of the recipient’s choice.
  • 3rd place: $125 per person cash or $250 per person scholarship to the New Mexico Institution of Higher Education or eligible coding bootcamp of the recipient’s choice.
What are the qualifications as a developer?
This contest is open to junior, mid, and senior level developers. We ask that you self-assess whether you have the right level of experience. If you’re interested in becoming a developer, contact us to learn about training pathways. This contest may not be for you if you don’t have previous software development experience.
Can people from the same company/organization sign up for the same team?
Absolutely! We want you to have fun with your friends and colleagues, so you can come with others in mind that you want to work with. Your team may be asked to take on another person depending on the amount and variety of ideas generated opening night, but it won’t be required.
Can I be on a team by myself?
Sure! We encourage everyone to network and meet other developers but the rules are 1-4 people.
I have a MacBook/PC/Linux machine, will that be ok? What software programs would I need to participate?
The contest is platform-agnostic — you and your team can decide what you’ll use, and all you need is a computer with a code editor to participate, any operating system. More programs may be needed depending on how your team decides to tackle the challenge, but the rules state that only tools that are free and openly available will be allowed.
When do I get my money?
Prize money payments may take 1-2 weeks after that to be processed. Winners will receive instructions on how to get their money after the awards ceremony. Scholarship awards may take longer to process, depending policies established by the school of your choice.
What's the deadline to sign up?
Out of consideration for our judges’ time, our limited space, and general logistics, we can’t accept sign-ups for developer participants after 5:50pm on September 13, and there are a limited number of tickets. If you’re thinking about participating, buy your ticket before it’s too late!