DigiFAB automation

Do you want to learn more about digital chemistry, and low-cost and open-source approaches to synthesis and analysis?


The DigiFAB Hackathon 2021: our challenge and how we hacked it.

Hack it! Reflecting on the 2021 DigiFAB Hackathon.

The Institute for Digital Molecular Design and Fabrication (
DigiFAB) and the Imperial College Advanced Hackspace (ICAH) invite undergraduate students from the Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering to participate in this chemistry hackathon.

The Hackathon Challenge

Participants will be split into two teams to design and build an automated low-cost  liquid handling platform and turbidimeter, with the final aim of integrating the two systems to work together. Existing experience in prototyping is not necessary, and the Hackathon challenge is a great opportunity to get to know others interested in this area of research by working together!

The project will run for 4 weeks from Monday 5 July in the DigiFAB//Hackspace hub in ICAH. Places are limited, so if you wish to apply, please send a short paragraph (max. 100 words) on why you are interested and what you think you would bring to the team to Feng Li, the DigiFAB Institute Manager (f.li@imperial.ac.uk), by 5 pm on Monday 31st May.

The applications will then be reviewed by the scientific committee (Becky Greenaway, David Miller, Klaus Hellgardt, Ben Egleston, Annabel Basford, and Ciaran O’Brien) and applicants will be informed of the outcome by Friday 11th June. Participants will then receive further information and the committee will facilitate the formation of the teams who will be able to meet each other before the Hackathon.


  • Do I need Hackathon or prototyping experience? Existing experience in these are not required, but getting involved would allow you to hone your hack skills, learn new hardware prototyping techniques using 3D printing, and build your practical knowledge in electronics and programming!

  • How much time will I need to work on the Hackathon?We expect the project to run for 4-6 weeks, the exact amount time can be decided within the team and adjusted as the project progresses. We estimate you are likely to need 3-4 days a week initially.

  • Will the teams have support during the Hackathon?Yes, the committee and ICAH staff will provide remote and hands on support.

  • Can I join the Hackathon remotely? No, you will need to attend in the White City campus, although some days you may wish to research remotely as agreed within the team.

  • Can I nominate my team members or apply as a pre-formed team?You can indicate these in your application but all members will need to apply separately. However, the committee will form the teams based on the applications, and unfortunately your nominations or pre-formed teams are not guaranteed.

  • Can I choose the project?If you have a preference please do indicate it in your application, although the committee cannot guarantee that everyone will be able to work on their preferred project when the teams are assembled.

  • Do I need to pay for consumables/kit?No, the organising committee will cover the costs of the required kit and consumables for the Hackathon – you just need to bring your creative ideas to hack a solution.

  • Do I need to produce a report after the Hackathon?Yes, we expect a brief report produced from each team after the Hackathon.

  • Will I receive payment or be reimbursed for my expenses? Yes we will offer the standard college UROP payment at £311.85 per week.

ICAH logo

Getting here