The third annual Makeathon, a 36-hour design competition, was held this weekend at the North Campus Art and Architecture Building. The MPowered event aimed to allow students of any major at any point of study, ranging from undergraduates to Ph.D.s, to create innovative art designs and products.
The event consisted of a Product Design Competition, a Fine Arts Showcase and a Case Competition in which teams competed for awards and recognition.
The event began Friday evening in the Chrysler Auditorium with an introduction to the competition. After that, teams spent Friday night coming up with design ideas and strategies, and then used the remainder of the weekend to work on them. During the production process, teams only had a list of materials and a workspace.
For the Product Design Competition’s “Around the House” category, one team created an automatic bartending machine. A member of the team, Engineering sophomore Scott Laorr said his team had what he described as a spontaneous creation experience.
“We had never done this before,” Laorr said. “We came into it with nothing prepared. We actually came up with the idea in line to register and didn’t start anything until the morning of construction. That’s when we started doing all of our designs and coding. We came into the morning with an idea and we went for 24 hours, with two hours of sleep, but for the most part, we went nonstop. It didn’t even start to take form until 10 p.m. last night. It was mostly all virtual until then.”
The Fine Arts Showcase was new to the event this year and emphasized artistic ability with the winning team creating a web-based virtual reality experience.
The fine arts team used an Xbox Connect sensor, typically used for motion tracking, as a 3D scanner. From there, the team created a virtual world, accessible through any smartphone, and hooked it up to cardboard goggles. The team was quick to point out the collaborative, hands-on nature of the process.
“The most influential part of the 36 hours has been the people who have come through and demoed as we have been working on it — this was other people in Makeathon, staff members and some friends,” said Art & Design sophomore Sam Bertin, “The energy too. Everyone was so just excited every step of the way.”
Art & Design senior Chris Withers, also a member of the team, agreed and said teamwork contributed to the experience.
“Everyone has had suggestions,” he said. “We got coding advice from people. It was the perfect place to be to get all the help we needed to make it happen.”
The event’s Case Competition was sponsored by the National Instruments Corporation. The task required teams to create a functioning robot prototype that could climb stairs.
Rohan Dasika, Engineering senior and one of the directors of the Makeathon, said the case was focused on structure.
“We wanted to look at making from a very structured, judging point of view, as opposed to open making,” Daskia said. “The purpose was to bring in a case and a have very, very specific problem to be solved and students would be judged against the rubric.”
Engineering senior Christopher Shih said he enjoyed his team’s creation process.
“The 36 hours were stressful but not impossible,” Shih said. “It was definitely hard. I’ve been awake for over 24 hours. But the experience of just getting the robot to work — for instance, out of the 36 hours, ours worked on hour 35. That’s the positive reinforcement — that what we did for the last 36 hours worked and actually fulfilled its purpose. Otherwise, you don’t waste 35 hours, and you do learn things. Even if you fail there is very much to be learned from experiences like this.”
The event culminated in an awards ceremony Sunday afternoon, in which cash prizes were given out in each category.
“The importance of the event is to spread the culture of making across campus,” Dasika said. “This is one of the avenues that people can choose to come — explore creativity, explore making and bring their ideas to life. Classes get very routine and monotonous and it’s just doing problems and readings. People here have learned a tremendous amount. I think this sort of experience is very valuable in today’s world. And especially with how the culture of business is shaping up, I think these are the skills that are going to carry people forward in the future.”