7th Annual IDSA - St. Louis Chapter Student Design Competition & Entry Deadline

in Partnership with the Saint Louis Science Center

Sep 22 2017 - 11:43am





CHALLENGE: Use design thinking methods to evaluate opportunities for self-sustaining food systems inside of urban communities, and develop a research insight report that addresses the advancement of food quality, accessibility, and community-building within urban populations.

Open to all students enrolled in a post-secondary Institution within the IDSA Midwest District.

Designs will be presented via charrette in St. Louis on Saturday, October 21st, 2017.

Registration Deadline: Friday, October 6th, 2017

VENUE:  Center Stage at The Saint Louis Science Center (SLSC)
5050 Oakland Ave, St. Louis, MO 63110

CONTACT:  Jason Mills, Vice Chair, IDSA St. Louis Chapter



IDSA St. Louis (IDSA-STL) seeks to support our regional Midwest IDSA community, mentor design students, and advocate interdisciplinary opportunities whenever possible. This student competition supports each of these goals and we invite students to bring their best ideas forward for this event.

Our aim is simple: Provide an opportunity for development and presentation of original, research-influenced, design solutions for review before a jury of professionals, competing peers, and the general public. This opportunity benefits design students in a few ways: 1.) as unique supplement to their portfolios; and 2.) enhancing professional credentials by demonstrating team-developed presentations; and 3.) exposure to a world-class institution and larger design community. Student entrants are required to work in teams, leading to the opportunity for collaboration across multiple divergent disciplines (including those students outside the traditional design professions).

In celebration of our seventh competition anniversary, IDSA-STL has gratefully once again partnered with the Saint Louis Science Center to help host our Midwest regional student design competition. The partnership continues as a tremendous opportunity for our St. Louis chapter and competition participants.


Your challenge is to evaluate and prepare a solutions outline to the scenario presented below (bearing in mind that how you approach the problem through the caliber of your research is equally important as what you will do with your findings at the competition):

In the spirit of our competition partner, your design investigation should be in keeping with the mission of the Saint Louis Science Center: “To ignite and sustain lifelong science and technology learning.”


Current urban planning practices are evolving how people live, work, and eat. As a result, new food systems are needed to satisfy the agricultural needs of modern urban developments. This year, we challenge teams to use design thinking methods to evaluate opportunities for future food systems within urban communities, and develop a research insight report that addresses the advancement of sustainable food quality, accessibility, and community-building among urban populations.

Your team’s research synthesis must reflect an evaluation of sustainable food systems for a modern urban community as identified by your team. Your data should include information about your chosen demographic, an explanation of the research precedent, and a thoroughly developed problem statement. The resulting research synthesis document should provide a solid groundwork for the development of creative solutions. It is expected that this research can be completed sufficiently within an intensive two-week timeframe.

Please come prepared to participate in the following:

a. An in-person discussion and summary of your team’s research findings
b. Team Combination Challenge in real-time: Collaborate, ideate, differentiate (and, perhaps, even innovate) in a high-energy environment with other schools
c. Synthesis, refinement, and development of design solution(s) in a charrette-style setting
d. Presentation of refined team solutions to your peers, jury panel, and the public



Work in teams of two (or more) to develop a research synthesis outline responding to the design challenge above. Confirmation of entry in the competition is due to IDSA-STL in the form of a completed application and $75 entry fee check made out to the Industrial Designers Society of America (or by credit card to be arranged upon request).


The competition is open to all students currently enrolled in a design-based curriculum (there is no requirement for a formal “Industrial Design” program in order to be eligible). Design research shall be conducted by a team consisting of a minimum of two (2) students.

At the Institution level, faculty sponsors may decide which research syntheses to submit for final judging but no more than three (3) unique syntheses per institution may be submitted for the competition. Historically, some schools have chosen to incorporate this design challenge into their regular course curriculum with great success.


RESEARCH INSIGHT REPORT (developed and submitted prior to arrival at SLSC)

  • Research demographics
    • Age range, gender, ethnicity, income level, etc.
  • Research precedent
    • Patterns or observations that guided your team’s research
    • Methods that were used to define the precedent
    • Describe how your team’s research data connects to the precedent
  • Problem statement
    • A well-crafted summarization of the specific design problem
  • Research activities
    • Description and documentation of how your team conducted research
    • Well-documented findings based on the chosen research methods
  • Opportunity map
    • A visualization of potential solutions to the problem statement, derived directly from research findings
  • Recommended format
    • 8.5”x11” or 11”x17” choice in size, landscape orientation
    • Digital file size must be transferrable via email or DropBox
  1. COLLABORATIVE DESIGN SOLUTION(S) (developed and presented at SLSC)
  • Verbal and Visual Collaboration
    • School Teams will be shuffled at random to collaborate/combine with other schools
    • Teams will be required to evaluate and synthesize their research approach together, in a real-time setting
  • Verbal and Visual Presentation
  • Extemporaneous, 10-12 minutes (max.), to be delivered as a combined outcome of research findings and onsite collaborative design development. Please bring resources to assist with development of visual aides to support the on-site design process. Analogue output shall be considered as equally valuable as digital.


  1. RESEARCH INSIGHT REPORT (developed and submitted prior to arrival at SLSC)
  • How well did the design team follow the expectations outlined in the competition deliverables?
  • To what extent did the design team follow a logical, thorough, and well-researched process to prepare for ideation of potential solutions?
  • How clear and concise is the report?
  • How well did the team use visual aides to support the research synthesis?
  1. COLLABORATIVE DESIGN SOLUTION(S) (developed and presented at SLSC)
  • To what degree did the combined team embrace each member’s skill set?
  • How well did the team field Q&A from the judging panel?
  • How well did the team relate design solutions to collective research findings?


Students should plan to arrive for set up prior to noon (a detailed schedule of events will be sent upon successful completion of Registration). Please contact IDSA-STL in advance regarding any special considerations required by your team.


Jury deliberation is private. The judging panel will be composed of a group of creative experts and design professionals that have been selected by IDSA-STL. Jurors will also include representatives from the Saint Louis Science Center. The judging panel is responsible for the selection of the award recipients based on the aforementioned evaluation criteria. The judging panel’s decision is final. The detailed notes and/or discussions relating to the individual designs with regard to the evaluation criteria shall not be published, or otherwise made available to participants, institutions, faculty, or guests.


Two (2) awards will be given, and ALL registered reports and presented design submissions have the opportunity to win:

  • Grand Prize: Design Research Award. The institution represented by the winning design team will receive a trophy and to-be-announced cash award.
  • Design Thinking Merit Award: The Jury shall award a combined team, based upon unique merit of on-site charrette outcomes, with the representative institution(s) receiving a trophy and to-be-announced cash award.


Participants are responsible regarding any concerns pertaining to legal protection and intellectual property. Rights to the designs must not have been transferred to a third party at the time that they are entered for the competition. The copyright and right of use belong to the participant(s), and no transfer of such rights to IDSA-STL, SLSC, or those in attendance is neither expressed nor implied.

By sending the entry form, participants declare their acceptance of the entry conditions and that they own the copyright for the project submitted. They also consent to the publication of material associated with the project submitted and with the persons involved.


The participant(s) confirm that the designs submitted originate from the participant(s) themselves. Since it is a requisite of the judging criteria that original research be conducted as a function of proposing a designed solution (item 2.a), any such benchmarks, or precedent materials, shall be clearly identified during the participants’ presentation. This shall include improvement upon any existing product which exists in the public realm by October 21, 2017.

Plagiarism, in any form, will result in immediate disqualification.