fab lab gift design contest

show off your students' creativity and talent.
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the wisconsin economic development corporation's (wedc) gift design contest is for high school students working in fab labs. the wedc recognizes the creativity of wisconsin’s students and believes in the ability of fab labs to empower students to bring shape to their ideas.

the goal of the contest is for wisconsin fab lab schools and students to use their skills and tools to create a gift that represents wisconsin. the winning design will be used by state of wisconsin leaders in their official capacity.

wedc frequently meets with senior officials from foreign governments and businesses where gift-giving is a part of the standard protocol. we also support the offices of the governor and lieutenant governor when they need to provide gifts to foreign delegations visiting wisconsin. it is important to utilize gifts that reflect our state and its attributes. in planning for the future, our goal is to find a wisconsin-designed and manufactured gift to be a default option for our needs. 

submissions must be made by schools with a fab lab that received wedc fab lab grant funding.

Deadline & Submission

schools may submit multiple products from multiple teams. eligible schools can work with any other school in the state, even non-awarded schools. submitted project designs may be published on the wifab site upon completion.

  • interested schools must declare their intention to participate by january 17, 2020, by emailing wifabcooperative@gmail.com. please include “intent to submit” in the subject line of your email. 
  • you'll be given further directions once we receive your intent to submit. the deadline for submissions is february 14, 2020.

physical prototypes should be mailed to: attention: patrick roetker, wedc, 201 w. washington ave., fl. 6, madison, wi 53703. 

design criteria

students should use the engineering design process. designs must:

  • follow the theme of a cell phone holder. no other designs will be judged.
  • hold a variety of cell phone styles and sizes for viewing and charging in an office environment.
  • be made from materials representing the state.
  • be unbreakable. no glass items will be accepted.
  • be durable and able to travel well.
  • be mounted non-permanently (i.e., desktop, wall-mounted, mounted on a computer screen, etc. without the use of screws or permanent adhesives).
  • be able to be produced in larger quantities from a set of instructions. the submission of digital files will be a requirement.

3d printers may be used in the design process, but it should not be a requirement for actual production. please consider costs, including labor production time, when selecting materials to be used. the price should be within $10 to $15. keep item weight as minimal as possible.

design elements
  • the most important design requirement is that the cell phone holder should prominently include a “wisconsin theme” in the design so that gift recipients will remember the gift’s origin. 
  • the design should be appropriate for display and use in a professional setting. 
  • the design should include elements that represent the state’s positive economic, cultural, historical, or other attributes.

wedc has identified six industry clusters of focus in the state of wisconsin. designs are not required to showcase these industries. instead, they should give a better idea of the economy of the state, and they can be used as inspiration. 

the six industry clusters are:

  • aerospace – though wisconsin does not produce planes, it is heavily involved in the supply chain of manufacturers such as boeing.
  • biohealth – the university system attracts more than $1 billion annually in research funding, with a large amount going towards science research.
  • energy, power, and control – this refers to not just the generation and transmission of electricity, but also to things like automated controls and energy management.
  • food and beverage – wisconsin is not only a food producer but also a processor (turning raw agricultural products into food products). in addition, we have a high concentration of food processing equipment manufacturing—we make the machines that make and package food.
  • manufacturing – wisconsin has the second-highest manufacturing employment concentration in the nation.
  • freshwater technology – this is a global priority, and wisconsin is recognized around the world for the cutting-edge work being done here. some imagery of water would be a welcome inclusion. (i.e., the great lakes are known globally and would be a worthy inclusion).

you are invited to incorporate text into your design that you feel conveys wisconsin’s core identity and value as a business, career and lifestyle destination. keep in mind, however, that such a message would need to be inclusive of the state’s geographic and economic diversity. the state’s motto, “forward,” is a suitable message to include in your design but is not required. reference to sports teams located in the state is not appropriate messaging for this gift.

though wisconsin’s agricultural heritage and pastoral landscapes are widely recognized, keep in mind the amount of manufacturing done in the state.

design exclusions
  • do not include features that are not universally recognizable (for example: though the packers are beloved across the state, their brand awareness is not global). 
  • do not violate copyrights (i.e., the packers logo or other corporate branding). 
  • do not include features that would render the design obsolete over time (for example: do not display the current year).
timeline and winner selections
  • february 14 – submission of design portfolio through wifab web portal, submission of the physical prototype to wedc. 
  • february 17 – judging begins for all submissions. 
  • february 24 – semi-finalists announced to all competition participants. 
  • march 9 - in-person presentations. 
  • march 16 - winner is announced. 

one design will be chosen to be produced and used by the state of wisconsin. the second and third place designs will also be announced.  the school with the winning design will receive a plaque/trophy along with a public announcement by wedc.