Make-A-Thon Goes Virtual

A virtual event didn’t stop students from developing real-world solutions.

During the NC State Make-A-Thon sustainability innovation competition — now in its sixth year — students compete in teams to create the best solution to a sustainability challenge. Whether it’s about water, waste, energy, transportation or food — that’s up to the teams to decide. With feedback from industry mentors, teams designed and prototyped their solution. At the end of the competition, teams pitched their ideas via video submissions to judges from the community and local companies for the opportunity to win cash prizes.

Here are the winning teams from the Jan. 29-31, 2021 competition:

Grand Prize: An app that connects grocery stores with food-based charities to reduce food waste. Grocery stores upload edible inventory that is set to be discarded so that food charities can recover the food for distribution in the community. This helps address both food waste and food insecurity issues.

First Place: A self-contained mini water treatment plant that will allow rural communities to harvest rainwater and use surface water as a drinking water source. The product uses a centrifuge to separate heavy particles, a sand and gravel filter to separate fine particles, and a UV-C lamp to disinfect the filtered water.

Second Place: A network of smart composting bins on campus that collect data for waste management, as well as assist in the sorting of compostable waste. This data can be used to gamify the process of composting, encouraging students to compete with one another to see who can compost the most.

New this year, the Wilson College of Textiles offered special recognition to Make-A-Thon teams with students who are majoring in textiles. The winning teams created solutions including an app to help people save energy, a textile recycling method, a face mask restoration process and a grassroots economic development organization.

NC State Make-A-Thon returns for its seventh year in winter 2022.