Each year, IDSA recognizes exceptional student design talent through our Student Merit Awards program. The competition highlights the very best creativity, problem solving and design brilliance in each of IDSA's five North American Districts. Two winners are selected from each District for this prestigious distinction, one at the Undergraduate (SMA) level and one at the Graduate (GSMA) level.
Both the SMA and GSMA program operate through IDSA’s online awards platform. A jury panel of design leaders and educators representing a cross-section of professional practice and design academia is assembled annually to review and select winners. This ensures the highest level of quality and rigor is achieved throughout all stages of the process.
Student Merit Award winners benefit from massive media exposure through IDSA's extensive reach and high-level industry recognition. These individuals receive an online profile, a print feature in INNOVATION magazine and special distinction at the annual International Design Conference. IDSA is proud to witness the incredible acceleration that winning an SMA provides in the professional success of those who participate. Previous winners are quickly becoming some of the most celebrated designers practicing today.
Undergraduate Student Merit Awards (SMA)
Schools with an active IDSA Student Chapter and Education Representative are encouraged to identify and enter a single candidate into the SMA program as an SMA Finalist, this is considered ‘Round 1.’ The SMA Finalist (a graduating senior) student designer is someone with tremendous talent, breadth of skill and who best embodies the industrial design program they represent. SMA Finalists enter into ‘Round 2’ by uploading project work for review by our committee of judges and are evaluated against peers from other schools in their district. One Student Merit Award winner will be selected from each district. There is no fee to enter, however participants must be a current IDSA student member. See complete eligibility requirements and guidelines here.
The 2020 SMA program has closed. Winners are posted below!
The SMA program is proudly supported by:
Graduate Student Merit Awards (GSMA)
Senior graduate-level industrial design students from North American schools with an active IDSA Student Chapter and Education Representative are encouraged to submit their work through our online platform in order to enter the GSMA competition. Unlike the undergraduate program, multiple students from a school can submit their work for consideration. Our judging committee made up of educators and professional designers review and select a single GSMA winner from each District. There is no fee to enter, however participants must be a current IDSA student member. See complete eligibility requirements and guidelines here.
The 2020 GSMA program has closed. The 2020 winner is posted below!
Update on 2020 GSMA Results: The number of submissions to the 2020 GSMA program was unfortunately much lower than expected and much lower than the number has been in previous years. As a result, and instead of canceling the 2020 GSMA program altogether, it was determined that choosing one winner out of the small pool of GSMA applicants this year would be the best outcome for ensuring the rigor and spirit of the competition under the circumstances. We simply did not have enough entries in each district to adequately evaluate students against each other at the district level. This difficult decision was made after the entry window had closed and total number of entries were tallied.
We apologize for any confusion or discomfort this last-minute change in the competition has caused. It’s certainly not the outcome we hoped for either. IDSA deeply appreciates the time taken by those who did enter the competition and who remain an important part of our community.
A Winner's Perspective