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First Makeathon competition at U-M to get students' creativity

February 20, 2014

Fifteen Spartans will be competing on Wolverine territory on Friday to design and create marketable products as part of the first ever collegiate Makeathon at the University of Michigan.

Makeathon, an event sponsored by MPowered Entrepreneurship, a U-M student organization, is a 24-hour challenge where students will break into teams of four and create the prototypes.

The prototypes will then be judged based on how marketable they are and will be displayed in an expo at Tech Shop in Detroit.

Irene Li, a genetics and interdisciplinary social sciences sophomore, has been working tirelessly since Tuesday, when she found out about the event.

She was aiming on putting together a last-minute social media campaign to get students involved in the event.

Li reached out to friends and students via a Facebook ad she created, which proved to be successful.

She said 15 are committed to the competition, whereas 15 others volunteered to organize the trip to Ann Arbor and show their support for the students.

U-M mechanical engineering and art and design junior Beverly Chou, who organized the event, has been planning it since last year.

One of the more difficult aspects is getting students from other majors besides engineering or design involved, Chou said.

“I think we try to market to them by telling them its going to be really fun that you don’t have to be an engineer and you don’t have to be an art student,” Chou said.

She said students participating in Makeathon will be able to attend workshops to guide them towards what they would like to create.

Chou said she is looking forward to meeting the MSU students who are coming.

She said there are students from four or five different universities participating within Michigan.

Mechanical engineering freshman Rebecca Wang said she thinks the event will be fun and provide networking opportunities.

She said she was looking forward to working with team members from diverse academic disciplines.

“All these majors will all contribute…to create something that is unifying,” Wang said.

Mechanical engineering sophomore Steve Price expressed his excitement for Makeathon.

Price, who was on America’s Got Talent last summer, wowed judges with his Rube Goldberg machines.

Essentially, these are machines that perform simple tasks in extravagant ways.

Some of the materials he used were marbles and hot wheels toy cars to create “chain reactions,” according to a previous State News report.

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Although he didn’t win, Price is continuing with his interests by getting involved in Makeathon.

He said he thinks the event will be challenging, despite his talent.

“You need to come up with a new idea, within one weekend, a brand new product, and its going to be hard to find proper inspiration,” he said.

Li said there will be mentors on hand to help students in the process of creating their prototypes

Li said she thinks Makeathon will help create a culture of innovation.

She said she aspires to spread the culture of collaboration in the creation of physical products at MSU.

“What’s important for me is to go and be in that…really innovative environment,” Li said.

Rafael Lopez Aguilar contributed to this report.


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