Student solutions are needed to make a more sustainable world. During this four-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.

2017 Make-a-thon Winners



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 won a 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

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 . More social media from the event

About the 2017 Make-a-thon

Photos from the event and story about the event

The Challenge

How might we more sustainably use water, energy, waste, transportation or food?
… as individuals?
… on campus?
… in our community, country or world?

What solutions can we prototype using things like…
…data science?
…3D design & printing?
…the Internet of Things?

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. 

Impact of 2016 Make-A-Thon

2016 Winning Projects

Grand Prize: KnowURShower reduces water and energy use associated with long showers
Energy: ecopen, a door mechanism that generates energy as a door is opened
Water: Coliform No More, a reclaimed water storage tank that oscillates to prevent bacterial growth and lengthen the storage life of reclaimed water
Waste: Trashr, a sensor designed to optimize dumpster trash collection routes
Best Use of Fusion 360: Step-Up Trash Compactor, which compacts trash or recycling using human power, and Internet of Things, an app that encourages sustainable behaviors

Watch Short Pitch From All 2016 Projects

By The Numbers

78% of Make-a-thon participants have never participated in a design challenge or hack-a-thon style competition
89% of Make-a-thon participants said the experience exposed them to new tools and technologies
100% of students said Make-a-thon taught them about campus sustainability issues
100% of students said Make-a-thon gave them experience working in an interdisciplinary, collaborative team environment

Students Speak

“Make-a-thon helped us think about a problem, and we were able to make this and could go patent it.”
“Going through a brainstorming process as a team and having a final product at the end is a really valuable asset.”
“This event was amazing.”
“The idea of my project having the ability to transform campus is huge.”
 Read more about the 2016 Make-a-thon or browse the Storify post