Report: Delightful (Student) Design at ASIS&T 2017

by Rebekah Willson and Stephann Makri (Student Design Competition Co-Chairs, ASIS&T 2017)

As co-chairs of the Student Design Competition at the ASIS&T Annual Meeting, we wanted to come up with a design brief that tied closely with ASIS&T’s mission statement of ‘connecting people and information in the physical and virtual worlds’. We set what we hoped would be a stimulating design brief on ‘creating connections’ – where those students up for the challenge would design the concept for a novel prototype mobile digital information tool with functionality to support creating meaningful connections between people, places, information, and ideas.

We assembled a panel of academic leaders in Information Science and Technology, ready not only to judge the winning team, but also offer insightful feedback. These were Brian Detlor (professor at McMaster University, Canada), Devon Greyson (postdoctoral fellow at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Canada), Michael Twidale (professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA) and Dan Albertson (associate professor at the University at Buffalo, USA). Then all we needed were students. And they delivered. We had a small number of participants, but the competition was fierce.

The students worked feverishly throughout the conference, making plans and forming teams at the kick- off session, meeting with us to get formative feedback on their design ideas, and then putting together final presentations for a room full of judges and on- lookers. The teams did a phenomenal job putting together innovative design ideas and gave absolutely engaging presentations – one of which involved improvised acting and the other surprise audience participation! One of the judges mentioned after the competition how he rarely saw students who focused so well on the purpose of their design. We were delighted with the design idea of the team that won – and even more impressed that there are discussions in the works to turn that idea into an app (which is why we can’t tell you much about it!).

It was lovely to get a chance to honour the students at the awards luncheon – and even better to be able to award each of them with free conference registration to next year’s ASIS&T Annual Meeting in Vancouver! If you’re a student coming to ASIS&T 2018 in Vancouver, look out for next year’s competition – which we hope will be even bigger and better.

Rebekah Willson, winner team (Saguna Shankar, Fabian Odoni, Tjaša Jug, Maria Henkel), Lynn Connaway