The 2021 Make-A-Thon is a virtual event coming January 29-31, 2021. Registration is now open for the event and will close Jan. 22, 2021. Register your team today!
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: $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 for third place.
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?
This year Make-A-Thon will take place virtually from Jan. 29-31, 2021. You’ll have online access to this year’s sustainability challenges, industry mentors and experts, and a collection of resources to guide the design thinking process. For judging, your team will create a video submission of no more than 7 minutes regarding the sustainability solution you developed.
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 at least two of those people must 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. We’ve set up a channel on Slack so that you can find others looking for teammates. You must register your team by Jan. 22, 2021.
What’s new this year?
If you have participated in previous Make-A-Thon competitions, you’ll notice a few changes this year. First, this year’s event features an all-virtual event format. This enables us to continue offering the competition while reducing the risk of COVID-19. Your health and well-being are our first priority. While we will miss the energy of being in-person, we are excited to continue to offer many of the competition’s hallmarks. You’ll have access to meeting with industry mentors and experts via an online format, and the science fair-style pitches to judges will now be submitted by your team via video. Make-A-Thon also continues to offer $3,500 in cash prizes. Another change we’re excited about this year is the opportunity for teams to work on real-world sustainability challenges submitted by local communities. If you prefer a more open-ended option, teams can also choose any sustainability challenge related to energy, water, waste, transportation or food.
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 this year include $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second place and $500 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 at the Make-A-Thon website by Jan. 22, 2021.
Each team will choose a prompt for which they will develop a solution. This year, teams have the option to create their own challenge or select one a real-world challenge submitted by local government agencies.
Option 1: Choose Your Own Challenge
This prompt is open-ended, allowing teams to focus on a sustainability challenge of their own design: How might we more sustainably use water, energy, waste, transportation or food? … as individuals? … on campus? … in our community, country or world?
Option 2: Food Security Among Seniors
While food insecurity impacts more than 1.6 million North Carolinians of all ages, hunger among senior adults over age 60 presents unique challenges. Many seniors have limited access to government-supported food programs such as SNAP due to being on a fixed income. Seniors who cannot drive or do not have access to transportation are often unable to access local food pantries, and organizations that deliver food, such as Meal on Wheels, historically have long waiting lists. Even when seniors are able to access food pantries, oftentimes available items are high in salt and sugar. Such items do not align with the dietary needs of seniors with chronic medical conditions, like high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Chronic dental disease can also make eating some food items difficult. In addition to the challenges, seniors with impared mobility or memory are often afraid to cook for fear of injuring themselves. What can be done in Wake County to reduce food insecurity among our most vulnerable seniors?
Option 3: Farmers Market and Food Security
The Wendell Farmers Market, located in downtown Wendell, NC, provides growers, harvesters, bakers, makers of prepared food and vendors an opportunity to sell locally grown and produced products to the community. Farmers markets such as this provide residents with access to fresher food, support local farmers and mitigate the impact of transporting food from other states or countries. These markets also present an opportunity for community outreach. While food insecurity impacts all geographics areas of North Carolina, counties located in the northeastern corner of the state boast the highest density of food insecurity. The Town of Wendell is located on the eastern border of Wake County, making it uniquely positioned to reach those communities hardest hit by hunger. How could the town use the Wendell Farmers Market to reduce food insecurity in the area?
Option 4: Transit Deserts in Non-Urban Areas
The farther you live from an urban area, the harder it can be to find reliable transportation if you cannot afford to drive yourself. Public transportation primarily serves populated areas with higher ridership. In satellite communities outside of Raleigh, for example, public transportation may be limited to a rush hour commuter bus line that runs on weekday mornings and late afternoons. There isn’t much connection to other areas of Raleigh, and as a result, everyday quality of life trips to the grocery store, doctor’s appointments and other services are difficult. Even rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are hard to use because they don’t reliably serve areas that are less densely populated. Lack of access to reliable and affordable transportation reinforce inequalities, restrict upward mobility and can create safety issues when people are forced to walk along roadways not equipped with safe pedestrian infrastructure. How might we better connect people with sustainable transportation solutions for better quality of life?
The magic of Make-A-Thon happens when our student teams connect with community members. Sign up to mentor students for a couple hours or to judge the teams' prototypes.
The 2020 NC State Make-A-Thon is brought to you by the following hosts and sponsors. Interest in sponsoring? Contact Chester Miller at email@example.com for more information about sponsorship of the 2021 event.
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