Coming again in 2024!
Impactful ideation. Rapid prototyping. Real-world teamwork. That’s the NC State Make-A-Thon experience.
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 you and your team to decide.
At the end of the competition, you will pitch your idea to judges from the community and local companies. And, yes, there are prizes for the winning teams: $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place. Up to $500 will also be awarded to teams representing the Wilson College of Textiles showcasing the best use of textiles in a team’s solution.
Make-A-Thon takes place Friday, Jan. 27 – Sunday, Jan. 28. This is NOT a lock-in event. Students have the opportunity to attend multiple workshops and informational sessions in person or virtually to assist them in their projects throughout the weekend, but teams are not expected to remain on-site for the duration of the event. At least one member of each team must attend the required events which are noted in the following schedule:
Friday, Jan. 27 at James B. Hunt Jr. Library
- Check-In, between 2:00-4:00 pm (required, teams will pick up information packets, maker kits and t-shirts)
- Kickoff Event, 4:15-5:45 pm (required)
- Dinner, 5:45-7:30 pm
Saturday, Jan. 28 at D.H. Hill Jr. Library’s Makerspace and The Garage in Partners I on Centennial Campus
- Build Day, between 11:00 am – 4:00 pm at The Garage (includes access to technical support and other resources)
- Build Day, between 1:00 pm – 9:00 pm at DH Hill Makerspace (includes access to mentors, technical support and other resources)
- Pizza Dinner, 6:00-7:00 pm
Sunday, Jan. 29 at James B. Hunt Jr. Library
- Deadline to submit a summary of your design, 9:00 am via virtual form (required)
- Check-In and Set Up, between 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (required)
- Lunch, 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
- Welcome and Science Fair-style Judging, 1:00-2:30 pm (required)
- Awards Presentation, 3:00-3:15 pm
What’s the challenge?
At the beginning of Make-a-Thon weekend, each team chooses a sustainability 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. At the end of the competition, you will pitch your idea to judges from the community and local companies. And, yes, there are prizes for the winning teams.
When does it occur?
Make-A-Thon 2023 will be January 27-29, 2023. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on January 29.
Who can participate?
Make-A-Thon is open to any NC State student – undergrad or graduate. You register as a team. Teams must consist of three or four people, and it’s required that at least two of those people be from separate colleges within NC State. If you already have a team formed, you will be able to register as a team. If you have a partial team formed or it’s just you, no worries. Utilize the Make-A-Thon Slack channel to complete your team or we can assist once registration begins.
What skills do I have to have to participate?
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.
Are there prizes?
Why, of course! Prizes include $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place.
I’m not a coder or a designer. Will that matter?
You don’t have to be a coder or a master of all things technology. It’s likely that someone else on your team may have skills in that area. Plus, we’ll have training sessions and mentors/experts around to help you.
How do I sign up?
Register online by Monday, Jan. 23, 2023 using this link: NC State Make-A-Thon 2023 Registration Form.
This prompt is open-ended, allowing teams to focus on a sustainability challenge of their own design:
Prototype a sustainable solution to a problem your team identifies connected to climate change, environmental justice, resiliency, waste, transportation, shelter, energy use or related issues.
- Consider the environmental, financial and social elements of your solution
- Consider the scale: individual, campus, community, country, world
Make-A-Thon is brought to you by the following hosts:
Interested in sponsoring? Contact Chester Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about sponsorship of the 2023 event.
GRAND PRIZE: Use of agricultural waste to produce magnetic biochar hydrogels to absorb contaminants from wastewater, such as organic chemicals and heavy metals. Spent hydrogels can also be reused for soil amendment.
Second Place: An online site named Pack Exchange that allows students to buy, sell, give and swap items they no longer use.
Third Place: A self-sanitizing, reusable cloth towel dispenser to reduce paper towel waste while providing an affordable and sanitary hand-drying experience.
The Wilson College of Textiles also offered a special textiles category and prizes to teams the following ideas:
- A machine that processes plastic bottles into thread, creating a sustainable fabric such as nylon
- Moss-based urinal cakes that are biodegradable and do not contain nor emit harmful chemicals while conserving water.
GRAND PRIZE: An Arduino-based device that can turn off lights in residence hall rooms when students are not present. Unlike a motion detector switch, the device offers an audible prompt to confirm no occupancy before lights are turned off.
Second Place: A showerhead that encourages shorter showers by briefly pausing flow of water after a set period of time as a reminder to conserve water.
Third Place: A network of UV light sanitation stations on campus where students can sanitize disposable masks to allow for reuse, which reduces mask waste.
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.
Second 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.
Third 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.
GRAND PRIZE: Pack ‘N’ Bulk is a concept for a zero-packaging healthy grocery store on campus.
Second Prize: An in-home extruder and grinder that recycles and repurposes plastic by converting it to plastic filament.
Third prize: Forecasting software for dining halls that generates data about how quickly each food item is consumed so that food waste can be avoided.
GRAND PRIZE: Imagine smart windows that adapt to the changing level of sunlight. In this energy-saving system, window shades and indoor lighting would automatically adjust to the sun, providing the optimal level of lighting for building occupants. The team won $2,000.
Second Prize: An Internet of Things-connected sensor could help save $300 a year in residential water use. A companion app challenges users to save water while Machine Learning helps identify water leaks before they become major water wasters.
Third prize: Recycling requires a market for the recycled material. If recycled plastic is integrated into a new type of pre-made concrete mix, this could reduce plastic waste while also simplifying the plastic recycling process.
GRAND PRIZE: The team who won the grand prize used piezoelectricity to create floors that capture and store energy. Each member of the winning team received a Desktop 3-D Printer and Starter Kit.
Second Prize: An internet of things-enabled factory/office/home that uses sensors to determine how humans are interacting with the building
Third prize: A reusable cup program for campus, as well as a foldable cup prototype
Auotdesk Fusion 360 Prize: Use of enzymes to process plastic recyclables
Social Media Prize: Plant sensors that save water by eliminating unnecessary irrigation
Paradigm Innovation Dare To Shift Prizes: An internet of things-enabled factory/office/home that uses sensors to determine how humans are interacting with the building, a mobile app that improves efficiency of evening safety/security escorts on campus, a reusable coffee cup lid and campus cup share program
GRAND PRIZE: The winning idea is for a bike-share program that uses existing campus bicycles and infrastructure.
Each member of the winning team received a Desktop 3-D Printer and Starter Kit. The team also wona consulting session with Aly Khalifa, NC State’s social entrepreneur in residence, and gift certificates for free fabric poster printing from Spoonflower.
2ND PLACE: The winning idea is a app-based surge protector for outlets that results in reduced phantom load.
Each member of the team received a SparkFun Tinker Kit, a $100 Shapeways 3D printing credit and a gift certificate to Spoonflower.
BUILT ON CLOUD PRIZE: The winning idea is a trash can attachment that notifies a user if a recyclable item is thrown away.
IBM donated $1,000 cash to best cognitive cloud solution that utilizes Bluemix.
FUSION 360 PRIZE: The winning idea is a modification to residence hall trash chutes that will accommodate recycling.
Autodesk donated Space Mouse and digital caliper for each member of team that best utilizes Fusion 360 design software.
SOCIAL MEDIA PRIZE: The winning team chronicled the development of a water-saving showerhead device.
The winning team received a smartphone bundle of cool prizes for best documenting their design journey
GRAND PRIZE: KnowURShower reduces water and energy use associated with long showers
ENERGY PRIZE: ecopen, a door mechanism that generates energy as a door is opened
WATER PRIZE: Coliform No More, a reclaimed water storage tank that oscillates to prevent bacterial growth and lengthen the storage life of reclaimed water
WASTE PRIZE: Trashr, a sensor designed to optimize dumpster trash collection routes
FUSION 360 PRIZE: Step-Up Trash Compactor, which compacts trash or recycling using human power, and Internet of Things, an app that encourages sustainable behaviors