Make-a-Thon nets another Sustainability Fund grant

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The Make-a-Thon, a four-day challenge during which student teams research, design, prototype and build a new solution that addresses a sustainability challenge, has received a Sustainability Fund grant for the second consecutive year.

One of 13 sustainability projects supported by $179,000 in grants from the fund, the third annual Make-a-Thon in 2018 will receive $6,300 to support facilities, materials, and event promotions.

Now a vibrant annual event, the Make-a-Thon is organized by the NCSU Libraries, with the University Sustainability Office and four University Housing living and learning villages: Engineering Village, Women in Science and Engineering, EcoVillage and Albright Entrepreneurs Village. The sustainability solutions that the student teams develop address needs in areas such as transportation and the consumption of resources like water and energy. Fueled with actual City of Raleigh and NC State campus data provided by the University Sustainability Office, the teams work day and night in the D. H. Hill Makerspace. After barely 48 hours of actual work time, they pitch their projects to a panel of community and industry sustainability experts.

In 2016, the event’s debut year, 11 teams competed. In 2017, 25 teams across 10 colleges and nine living and learning villages vied for a wealth of prizes from sponsors such as Autodesk, IBM, and SparkFun Electronics. For a running account of the day, see the Libraries’ Storify.

Some of the projects have gone on to have a second life, as well. The "Re-Cycle" project, which garnered students Taha Arif, Kevin Holgado, Julien Chomfette, and Alper Ender the Make-a-Thon Grand Prize in 2017, went on to win a second-place award in the Design and Prototype category at the Lulu eGames this year. The team developed a lightweight, inexpensive and scalable bike share system for cities and universities which reclaims abandoned bicycles and reduces a city’s carbon footprint while gathering data to improve cycling infrastructure.

"Make-a-Thon has grown in less than two years from a crazy idea to a premier high-impact learning experience at NC State, all thanks to an wonderful partnership between the Libraries, the Sustainability Office, Autodesk Inc., and a group of very dedicated Living and Learning Village directors,” says Emerging Technology Services Librarian Adam Rogers. “We're grateful for the Sustainability Fund's support, and excited to see what new collaborations and sponsorship we can line up for next year. Most of all, we can't wait to see what new innovations our amazing students come up with at Make-a-Thon 2018!"

The Sustainability Fund grants are awarded by a student-led advisory board and funded through a $2.50 per semester student fee that students voted to create in 2012. Grants are available to NC State students, faculty and staff who submit proposals for sustainability projects that improve campus or promote awareness.

Other funded projects for 2017-2018 include:

  • Installation of a campus aerated static pile (ASP) composting system, which will become the largest ASP system on a southeastern campus
  • Installation of “bee hotels” on campus
  • The completion of a roof-top garden on Talley Student Union
  • Installation of solar-powered scoreboards at the Method Road Field Complex
  • Support for the student-led development of a solar-powered vehicle prototype
  • Installation of a campus bin for safe, responsible disposal of prescription medications