5 Questions About Make-a-thon

Make-a-thon is NC State’s annual sustainability innovation challenge for students. During this three-day challenge, student teams research, design, prototype and build a new solution that addresses a sustainability challenge. On the last day, community and industry sustainability experts evaluate solutions and award prizes to the top teams in each category, as well as a grand prize to the overall winner. Student teams can now register for 2018 Make-a-thon, which is Jan. 26-28 on campus.


Many students learned new technology in the NCSU Libraries’ Makerspace during the Make-a-thon competition.

Why Make-a-thon?

Student solutions are needed to make a more sustainable world. At the beginning of the Make-a-thon weekend, each team chooses a challenge theme/subject to address and narrows in on a specific scale such as individual, campus or community. For example, a team might choose to create a solution that helps individuals reduce personal water use or that helps the community incorporate more sustainable food practices. In addition to improving our world, Make-a-thon participants say the event provides many benefits. Nearly 80% of Make-a-thon participants have never participated in a design challenge or hack-a-thon style competition, so it’s great, new experience. Plus, all participants say that the event teaches them about campus sustainability issues and gives them experience working on an interdisciplinary team.


What kind of projects are created?

Amazing projects, of course. Check out the winners from the 2017 and 2016 competitions. Projects have focused on areas including water, energy, waste, transportation and food.


What if I can’t code or if I don’t have technical prototyping skills?

A think and do attitude is all that’s required. A true interdisciplinary event, Make-A-Thon brings together students with all kinds of backgrounds and skills. Some code. Some design. Some write. These diverse perspectives and skills will enable unique solutions to campus sustainability challenges. Bring whatever skills you have. Collaboration will take care of the rest. We also offer technical training as part of the event. 89% of the students who participated in last year’s Make-a-thon said the experience exposed them to new tools and technologies.


What if I can’t stay the entire time?

We can’t either, so that makes at least two of us. Make-A-thon isn’t a lock-in and we know that 72 hours is a long time. If you have other commitments during the weekend, feel free to take a break from Make-A-thon. You can stay and leave as you choose, though it’s more fun if most participants participate in most of the event. The big takeaway is this: don’t not sign up for Make-A-thon just because you can’t be there the entire weekend. Talk with your team, divide up responsibilities accordingly and figure out how to carry each other’s loads. It’s good real-world experience. One big request is that at least half of your team be present for Sunday afternoon judging and awards. A lot of planning goes into making this event a reality, and Sunday afternoon is the culmination of a lot of hard work. We want you to be there to be part of the celebration of your creativity.


What are the prizes?

Winners are named in multiple categories, such as best use of social media, best use of particular technologies and, of course, the overall winners. Prizes include GoPro Hero 4s, 3D printers, Snapchat Spectacles, Merge VR Goggles and more.


Ready to sign up? You just need a team of 4 students, and the team must have representation from at least two colleges. Last year the event sold out, so register today to secure your spot!

Published in News.