International Student Design Competition

This is the first year of the UPA International Student Design Competition. Similar competitions have motivated and energized students to work on meaningful projects and led to initiatives that positively impacted lives of real people.  Students who have participated in similar events went on to become active members of their professional communities.

Important Dates

  • 23 March, 2009 Paper Submissions Deadline 17:00 EST, Round 1 Closed
  • 15 April, 2009 Notification of Round 1 winners
  • 25 May, 2009 Submission by Round 1 winners of Posters for Judges to review before Poster session at the conference
  • 9 June, 2009 Round 2, Poster session & judging at UPA in Portland, OR
  • 10 June, 2009 Round 3, Oral Presentations of winning projects from the Poster session in Round 2 & announcement of competition winners.

The Design Problem

Sustainable Transportation is about “meeting the mobility needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.” [ Wikipedia ]

Sustainable Transportation is an attempt to remedy the current problems of excessive energy consumption, pollution, and inadequate service levels delivered by transportation systems worldwide.  The problem can include efforts to reduce carbon emissions, improve public transit, and encourage car sharing, cycling, and walking.  It is projected that by 2025 2/3 of the world’s populations will reside in urban areas, making Sustainable Transportation a critical component in economics, politics, and health concerns of massive urbanization.

This competition invites student teams to invent a system that addresses this design problem.   The solutions should follow a user centered design process supported by background research and, if possible, ethnographic research of the solution space.  We encourage students to reach into their nearby communities and include target user groups beyond students themselves – for example, families with children, urban professionals, the elderly, etc..  Solutions should be focused on real locations and be sensitive to real users’ needs and cultures.

To enter the competition, student teams may present either a concept (a clear, detailed design specification that can be taken to prototype), or a fully realized prototype.  Either way, teams must clearly illustrate their design decisions and demonstrate the user centered design processes that have been followed. We strongly encourage consideration of:

  • Previous work in this area and in adjacent design areas
  • Ethnography and contextual research to ground the design decisions
  • Evaluation of the designs with target users within iterative design framework

The Competition Structure

The competition follows a three round process. Each round focuses on communicating the team's ideas through a different mode, as follows:

Round 1. Short Paper

Teams will submit a short paper (6 pages maximum) describing their design solution. Expert reviewers will evaluate submissions and a maximum of 10 teams will be selected to attend the UPA conference in Portland.

Round 2. Poster

Advancing teams will attend the conference to give a poster presentation outlining their design, and discuss their proposed solution with a panel of Student Design Competition Judges. The Judges will select 4 teams to participate in the competition’s final round.

Round 3. Oral Presentation:

The four (4) finalist groups will give an oral presentation on their design to the panel of Student Design Competition Judges and UPA conference attendees. Based on the criteria below, the competition judges will rank and select an overall winner of the competition.

Attendance at the UPA 2009 conference is mandatory for selected teams to advance to Round 2.