One morning last April, hundreds of fliers appeared around campus, posted at eye-level for students to see them. At bus stops, on the walls of classrooms, and in bathroom stalls, an ominous drawing of campus was visible with a simple call to action on top: “Solve the VT Hunt. Claim its prize.”

In 2018, two students banded together in secret to craft a series of elaborate puzzles, each one building on the last. The students created a total of 13 puzzles woven throughout Virginia Tech’s campus. They challenged students to complete the first VT Hunt, and ultimately, hundreds of students answered the call. Only a few finished, receiving a small trophy and esteem from the creators.

Now, after another year of preparation, the hunt is returning in early April. But the date is a surprise.

VT Hunt was imagined by Jamie Simon ‘18, an alumnus of the College of Engineering.

“As a senior, I had felt like it was something Virginia Tech needed,” said Simon. “It seemed like there was a niche for it. There are a lot of engineers and problem-solvers, but there weren’t enough random challenges built into campus.”

Simon and a friend spent a few months designing the hunt. They hid boxes around campus, put clues in obscure places, such as underneath lamp posts, and even partnered with professors. The puzzles culminated on the small island in the middle of the Duck Pond. Students took upward of three weeks to complete the first hunt.

Examples of the hunt riddles included a glow-in-the-dark puzzle in a drainage tunnel, a message depicted in sign language, and a clue that could be given only after Roger Chang, an instructor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, received 25 cans of donations to a food bank.

This year, a secret team of seven riddle designers have created a hunt meant to last at least a month. More than a dozen puzzles are planned, such as riddles involving robots.

“This is something that adds spice to campus,” said Simon. “Last year, two people did everything, but it affected hundreds. It makes people’s lives more interesting.”

Want to join the hunt? Look out for campus fliers announcing the start date.  

Written by Brendan Coffey