As a part of the Bicentennial celebration, the University of Michigan held the Campus of the Future competition finale at the Power Center on Thursday to celebrate the finalists in the Student Project Showcase competition, held earlier that day at the Duderstadt Center. 

The third and final President’s Colloquium looked to the future of campus, turning to students to see what their imaginations saw for the University going into its third century. More than 100 students participated in the competition.

Thirty-four student projects were featured in the competition, with three judges choosing the winner. Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of law and philosophy at New York University, Amazon Vice President Babak Parviz and Jenny Sabin, Design and Emerging Technologies assistant professor and director of graduate studies in architecture at Cornell University, selected winners by analyzing their projects on the “Six C’s of Academic Innovation”: Challenge, Creativity and Innovation, Conceptual Development, Coherence, Consistency and Changing Education. $30,000 in prize money was distributed among the top three groups. 

University President Mark Schlissel gave the opening address, citing his optimism for the University’s third century and his relief at not having to personally choose the winner due to the high quantity of high quality student projects.

“The University of Michigan’s 200th year has given us this wonderful opportunity to look back on our history with purpose, to examine our impact on society and to consider how our university has continued to evolve,” Schlissel said.

Moderator Jeff Sorensen, director for social innovation and co-founder of optiMize, then announced the five finalists and gave each team leader the opportunity to receive criticism and answer questions from the judges. He also noted the advantages a University of Michigan education gives students.

“A U-M education is all about following your passions and finding your career path and taking an initiative to make a positive impact in society,” Sorensen said. “We have all of that here tonight.”

Sabin thanked the participants for their work and for teaching and impressing her with the visions of the future they demonstrated.

“Thank you for bringing these visions to the table,” Sabin said. “I think that one of the things that I was most impressed by across all of the projects was the level of real collaboration across disciplinary boundaries. That’s not always easy to do.”

The five finalists were: an original massive open online course developed between Education professor Michaela Zint and students to be used as a student-led digital curriculum to analyze climate change, an imagined University campus on Mars, mobile learning labs, a crowd-sourced studying tool and a virtual reality campus.

Business junior Scarlett Ong felt optimistic about continuing her project, the crowd-sourced studying tool called Fathom, and encouraging students to take the leap when it comes to entrepreneurial projects.

“Because the features (of the project) are very far in advance, since we can see this kind of thing happening in 10 years down the line, my team has decided to focus on their studies but I am creating this peer-to-peer learning social network and that is really the starting point of building this userbase of helping to foster a learning community,” Ong said.

The University of Michigan Mobile Learning Labs team took home first place at the competition and was awarded $15,000 in prize money. The group aimed to create experiential learning options for students by creating pop-up learning labs, testing this with a pilot lab in Ann Arbor operating at three scales. The virtual reality online campus team won second, while the University satellite campus on Mars team won third place. All teams were awarded Campus of the Future awards. 

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