Congratulations to 2017 Makeathon Socially Engaged Design Awardees

The teams were prepared with great pitches and some cool concepts considering their time, information, and resource constraints.

The winning SED Award teams ($250 each) were:
  • MAqua: designed an “aquaponics” bookshelf – a self-sustaining, symbiotic fishtank/edible garden in the form of an apartment-sized, mobile end table or bookshelf.
    • This team’s design and pitch highlighted the envisioned interaction between the product and its surroundings, considering the cultural, social, economic, and environmental needs/context in a future city apartment.  Their product makes efficient use of space and energy and was a functional, aesthetically pleasing prototype.
  • The Team, The Team, The Team: competed in the NI Case Competition and made an autonomous Blue Bus that serves people with all abilities.
    • This team had a compelling story and a highly functional prototype.  Their vehicle was aesthetically pleasing and included a variety of non-visual features like an automatic, gentle-sounding horn to warn people who may be nearing the front end of the vehicle.  They mocked up an accessible website to accompany their vehicle. Their pitch used respectful and appropriate language and showed that their design decisions consistently considered their users of all abilities.

Additional $50 prizes were awarded as honorable mentions to:


  • Thettle: a water bottle that heats and holds cold, warm, or boiled beverages.
    • Their device was very well-connected to a problem statement.  They incorporated some elements of design ethnography (i.e. having surveyed people in advance, basing problem statement on personal observations on travel experiences in China).  They also had a functional prototype.
  • Hikari: a tabletop ball backlit with multiple colored lights that allowed children in hospitals or on the autism spectrum to have a sensory-based way of communicating with loved ones in a different location (i.e. changing lighting pattern on one device with the wave of a hand is copied onto the paired device).
    • This team used respectful and relevant language to describe the target population, an underrepresented group in the design space.  Their prototype was also thorough, functional, and visually appealing.  Needs of their particular target users were clearly reflected in their design.


Teams participating in both the Open Design Challenge and the National Instruments Case Competition were eligible for the socially engaged design award.  This award recognized the efforts of up to two student teams who demonstrated substantial attention to social, cultural, economic, and environmental contexts in their designs.  Consultants from the University of Michigan Center for Socially Engaged Design were be available during the event to offer feedback.

Makeathon 2017: Future City

SED Award Evaluators: Randy Schwemmin & Christie Donahue