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Student Design Competition: CHI 2009 Call for Participation

Quick Facts

  • Submission: 7 January 2009 (5:00pm PST)
  • Notification: 30 January 2009
  • Camera Ready: 4 February 2009
  • Submission Format: Camera-ready unanonymized 6 page extended abstract in Extended Abstracts format and proof of all team members' student status.
  • At the Conference: Up to 12 accepted design competition submissions will give posters at the conference; 4 of these teams will also give a presentation.
  • Archives: Extended abstracts; DVD and ACM Digital Library
  • Frequently Asked Questions: wickedproblems.com/chi09sdc.html

Message from the Student Design Competition Chairs

This is the sixth year of the CHI Student Design Competition. The competition has grown each year with increased international representation, and always draws a large audience at CHI - it has become a major recruiting opportunity for identifying talented students. In 2008 there were over 40 international submissions, and we trust 2009 will illustrate an even larger adoption.

Jon Kolko, frog design
Mike Glaser, Drexel
Contact us: studentdesign@chi2009.org

What is the Student Design Competition?

The competition is aimed at meeting three goals:

  • Provide an opportunity for students from a variety of design backgrounds (HCI, industrial design, product design, visual design, etc.) to participate in CHI and demonstrate their problem solving and design skills in an international competition against their peers.
  • Provide CHI attendees with refreshing perspectives on how design teams from different disciplines and different parts of the world approach a common design problem.
  • Provide CHI attendees with a chance to meet future professionals in our area, and provide competition participants with an opportunity to network with experienced HCI and Design professionals.

The Design Problem

A predominant cultural shift is underway, as societies begin to embrace the real-world implications of sustainable design. This shift has been described in a number of ways, including "slow design" or "act local, think global"; each description attempts to capture the nature of living a life that brings raw materials and production closer in proximity to their origins. By utilizing resources that are locally produced, and by disposing of these resources in a way that supports the local environment, a regional value system can be established that affords sustainable practices and that financially supports the local culture.

Design an object, interface, system, or service intended to support the idea of utilizing or consuming local resources rather than global resources, in a sustainable and environmentally efficient manner. Use methods of ethnography and contextual research to understand the problem space, and develop user-centered design solutions to support, assist, enhance or otherwise benefit your target audience. Your solution could address the methods of production or transportation of local resources, or could focus on the consumptive and disposal processes; whatever the focus, however, the solution must clearly illustrate positive value to both local stakeholders and to the local environment in your respective region.

To enter the competition, student teams may present either a concept (a clear, detailed design specification that can be taken to prototype), or a fully realized prototype. Either way, teams must clearly illustrate their design decisions and demonstrate the user centered design processes that have been followed. Additionally, as this problem has a broad cultural and social focus, "system design thinking" is encouraged. We strongly encourage consideration of:

  • Previous work in this area and in adjacent areas
  • Ethnography and contextual research to ground your design decisions
  • Elaboration of methods for evaluating your designs within your iterative design framework

Click here to read frequently asked questions and answers concerning this competition: wickedproblems.com/chi09sdc.html

The Competition Structure

The competition follows a three round process. Each round focuses on communicating the team's ideas through a different mode, as follows:

  1. Teams will submit a short paper (6 pages maximum) describing their design solution. Expert reviewers will evaluate submissions and a maximum of 12 teams will be selected to attend the CHI conference.
  2. Accepted teams will be expected to attend the conference to give a poster presentation outlining their design, and discuss their proposed solution with a panel of Student Design Competition Judges. The Judges will select 4 teams to participate in the competition final.
  3. The 4 finalists will give an oral presentation on their design to the panel of Student Design Competition Judges and CHI conference attendees. Based on the criteria below, the competition judges will rank and identify an overall winner of the competition and two runner-up teams (second and third place).

Attendance at the CHI 2009 conference is mandatory for selected teams to reach stage 2 of the above process.

Round One: Paper

Teams should prepare a camera ready unanonymized paper (6 pages maximum) written in the Extended Abstracts format. This document should submitted as a single PDF by January 7th, 2009, (5:00 PM PST) to the PCS submission system. The file must be no larger than 4 Mb in size.

This paper must include:

  • A description of the proposed solution, including the approach taken and the design process followed
  • Imagery (as appropriate) to illustrate the design solution
  • Reference to design principles and theory where appropriate
  • Acknowledgement of partial or incomplete solutions
  • Acknowledgement of any assistance drawn from outside the student team (advisors, faculty, domain experts, existing solutions, users, etc.)

All submissions must be in English and must include title and author information, including author affiliations. Please be sure that submissions do not contain proprietary or confidential material and do not cite proprietary or confidential publications. Due to tight publication schedules, revisions will not be possible. The submitted PDF version will be considered the final version of the paper.

Round Two: Poster

Up to 12 successful submissions will be invited to CHI 2009 to take part in the next stage(s) of the competition, based upon reviewer ratings and comments. Teams will be provided space in the convention center to display posters and discuss their proposed solutions with the CHI 2009 attendees.

A scheduled 90-minute poster presentation event will take place during the conference. Student teams will be expected to host their posters and discuss their approach, design method and solutions with the Student Design Competition Judges. The competition judges will select four teams to orally present their proposed solutions during a scheduled Student Design Competition Final CHI presentation session.

Specific guidelines for preparing posters:

  • Each poster will have a display space approximately 4 feet wide and 4 feet high.
  • The poster is expected to follow the International Standards Organization (ISO) poster size format (A0) in portrait orientation. The dimensions for A0 format are 84cm x 119cm, or approximately 33" x 47".
  • Audiovisual and computing equipment will not be supplied. Power outlets will not be available.

The poster must include:

  • The proposed solution's name, team name, school affiliation
  • The perspective taken to address the design challenge
  • A concise description of the proposed solution
  • Clear illustrations of key aspects of your proposed solution
  • Compelling, effective visual design

Round Three: Presentation

Four teams selected following the Poster Presentations will present their design process and solution during a short presentation to the Judges and CHI attendees. Presentations will be limited to 10 minutes plus a subsequent 5 minutes to answer questions from the judges and audience. Presentations must include:

  • The design process that was followed
  • A concise description of the proposed solution
  • Reference to design principles and theory where appropriate
  • Acknowledgement of partial or incomplete solutions

Reviewing Criteria

Each team's short paper submission will be distributed to and reviewed by both academics and professionals.

Round one, the written submission, will be reviewed based on

  • Use of ethnography and contextual research
  • Minimization of a negative environmental "footprint"
  • Analysis of/approach to the proposed challenge
  • Appropriateness/relevance of the solution to the posed challenge
  • Originality of the solution
  • Quality of the design process
  • Quality of the argument for the proposed solution
  • Cost efficiency of solution
  • Clarity of writing

Round two, the poster submission, will be reviewed based on:

  • Clear communication of key aspects of solution
  • Clear communication of design method
  • Clear communication of rationale for proposed solution
  • Visual design and aesthetic appearance

Round three, the presentation, will be reviewed based on:

  • Clarity and organization of the oral presentation
  • Relevance and clarity of presentation material (slides, video, etc)
  • Quality of argument used to justify why the solution is worthy of consideration


The top four entries to the Student Competition earn a Certificate of Recognition. The winning entry will be recognized during the closing plenary session of the CHI 2009 conference.


Proof of Student Status

To be eligible for the student competition, all participants must provide a signed letter from their academic supervisor confirming that at least 50% of their working week is spent following an academic course of study, and that they were not employed within HCI-related industries when working on the team's submission. All students must provide proof of their student status on or before January 9th, 2009. Each team must provide one proof package - a single file containing scanned signed letters for each team member - together with their project submission.

Student Team Requirements

Teams must consist of at least two, but no more than five, students. There is no limit to the number of teams that may compete from any given University.

Submissions are invited from all students at all stages of their university careers, from undergraduate to post-graduate. While not a mandatory requirement, it is strongly encouraged that the teams put forward a multidisciplinary, multi-national team.

Advancing to Round Two

Based on reviewers' rankings, up to 12 teams will be invited to compete at the CHI 2009 conference. Authors of accepted submissions will be expected to attend the conference in order to participate in the later stages of the competition, and to present their submissions to other conference attendees. Due to the collaborative nature of the team competition, it is essential that at least two of the team members attend the poster presentation and final competition at the conference. We regret that the ACM cannot provide funding for authors of accepted submissions to attend the conference. However, we strongly recommend that authors of submissions sign up as a CHI Student Volunteer.

Teams will be notified of acceptance or rejection on January 30th, 2009. All accepted papers will be published in the Student Competition section of the CHI2009 Extended Abstracts as well as in the ACM digital Library. Teams must immediately sign and return the copyright form sent upon acceptance.

In preparation for the second phase of the competition, all accepted teams must submit a completed poster design (electronic copies in PDF format) three weeks before the conference to allow the judges a chance to familiarize themselves with the submissions.