Student Design Competition

Quick Facts

  • Important Dates:
    • Submission deadline: Wednesday, 13 January 2016 (12:00pm PST)
    • Notification deadline: Friday, 29 January 2016
    • Publication-ready deadline: Friday, 5 February 2016
  • Submission Details:
    • Online Submission: PCS Submission System
    • Template: Extended Abstract Format
    • Submission Format: 6 page paper in Extended Abstracts Format, a 5-minute video clip in MP4 format, and proof of all team members’ student status.
    • For this venue, references DO count towards page length.
    • Submissions are not anonymous and should include all author names, affiliations, and contact information
  • Selection process: Juried
  • Chairs: Anirudha N. Joshi, Scott L. Minneman  (
  • At the Conference: Accepted submissions will participate in a juried poster session. 4 teams will then be chosen to advance to the next round which will involve giving a short presentation.
  • Archives: Extended abstracts; posters; videos; ACM Digital Library


Message from the Student Design Competition Chairs

This is the 14th year of the CHI Student Design Competition. The Student Design Competition continues to grow each year with increased international representation. The competition always draws a large audience at CHI and has also become a major recruiting opportunity for identifying talented students. Last year, there were 69 international submissions from about 15 countries. With your entries we hope to continue this trend in both submission numbers and quality and make the CHI experience exciting, innovative, and attractive.

Anirudha N. Joshi, IIT Bombay, India
Scott L. Minneman, California College of the Arts, USA


What is the Student Design Competition?

The Student Design 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, interaction 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

Computer interface design is typically performed in service of needs shared by broad swathes of the population—objects and services that can be produced and delivered in mass quantities, and that can be used by many people, in myriad settings. That approach is a cornerstone of how industrial economies work, and has yielded many successes. Unfortunately, this model of technology development often neglects populations who present needs outside of the norm—folks who, for a variety of reasons, cannot utilize these mainstream technologies.

Assistive Technologies are design interventions to serve users that present different and often challenging needs.  These users may have sensory difficulties like blindness or deafness, or they may have a physical condition that prevent them from speaking or a motoric impairment that preclude their operating devices in a traditional way (e.g., tremor or paralysis), or they may present one of myriad cognitive syndromes that make their lives a challenge.  A huge opportunity exists to do good things by applying our design skills to these populations, all the way down to specific individuals, who present different needs and abilities. Further, specific settings of use can also complicate matters and make a commodity technology inappropriate for use in a particular instance. Alongside these user- and setting-driven considerations, the means and forces of production have changed in ways that allow designers to focus in on particular user needs and work with the demands and opportunities that crop up.

At some level, all technology is assistive technology.  As well, each of us, at some moment, probably exhibit some sort of impaired ability.  You may get some traction by taking that sort of definitional interpretation of the challenge.  In fact, one of the facets of this design challenge is for you to select a demographic and situation that you feel passionate about, that you believe will resonate with the CHI community, and where you believe you can make a real and significant contribution.  Having direct access to an individual or community of people you can design with and for may factor heavily into your choice of focus—this is not a challenge where you’ll likely have a good result if you simply imagine what life is like for your users or if you design for yourself.

The theme of CHI 2016 is “doing good.”  We want you to operationalize this theme by creating an Assistive Technology. You could adopt a inclusive design strategy that allows someone with a sensory impairment to more effectively use an existing technology. You could just as validly create an all-new technology that offers opportunities for the disabled to participate in a domestic or public setting, for work or for play. You may want to be very specific (e.g., a non-vocal individual participating on a debate team or at a poetry slam) or more general (e.g., a blind person navigating an unfamiliar part of town (after having been dropped off by their self-driving car service)). You can apply what we know about social networks, gamification, the internet of things, wearables, or hacker spaces. You may investigate why specific groups of individuals face more challenges and then experiment with ways to overcome those challenges. You may address specific challenges in an occupational setting, or with mobility, or in learning, or with living independently, or in entertainment – choose you own or do something that crosscuts all of those.  You may come up with an inclusive design approach that makes existing technologies work for a broader set of users or you may find opportunity in emerging technologies (e.g., 3D printing, nanotechnology, modular robotics, drones, wearables, programmable matter, or whatever). Push the envelope…expand the discussion and the possibilities…empower people!

For this year’s design challenge, we particularly encourage that the following criteria be considered:

  • Does your Assistive Technology address a real problem?
  • Does the solution use technology in a novel and creative way?
  • Were relevant prior works properly identified and cited?
  • Were analysis, synthesis, design and evaluation sufficient and systematic?
  • Was the Assistive Technology developed far enough to demonstrate the ideas?
  • Were real stakeholders involved in the process of development and evaluation?
  • Was the solution well-crafted and effectively presented?


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 or organization. However, one student cannot be part of multiple teams.

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


Preparing and Submitting your Student Design Competition Submission

Student Design Competition submissions must be submitted via the PCS Submission System by January 13, 2016 12pm PST. The submission must have the following four components:

  • Extended Abstract. Teams will submit a non-anonymized paper (6 pages maximum) written in the Extended Abstracts Format summarizing their design solution and its evolution. Submissions not meeting the page limit or formatting requirements will be automatically disqualified. This document should be submitted as a single PDF and the file must be no larger than 4 Mb in size.
  • Poster. The poster design should be reduced to one standard letter page in size and submitted in PDF format and the file must be no larger than 6 Mb in size.
  • Video. Teams must provide a supplementary video (MP4 file, max 5-minutes), with a file-size no larger than 100Mb, illustrating how your solution fits the lives of the users with the help of scenarios. It may also illustrate some details of the interface and the information presented. Please refer to the Video Showcase section for guidelines on the video submission.
  • Proof of Student Status: submit a note signed by your academic supervisor verifying all of the following information:
    • your university
    • whether you were a graduate or undergraduate when the work was done
    • confirmation that you are currently registered in an academic program full-time (that at least 50% of their working week is spent following an academic course of study). Participants must be students pursuing an academic degree at the time of initial submission (Fall 2015). Transcripts or scanned IDs will not be accepted as a proof. All students must provide proof of their student status by the letter mentioned above. Each team must provide one proof package (a single file containing scanned signed letters for each team member) together with their project submission.


The Competition Structure

The competition follows a three-round process. Each round focuses on communicating the team’s ideas through a different mode.

Round One: Extended Abstract, Video and Poster

Teams will submit a short paper in Extended Abstract Format (six pages maximum) summarizing their design solution and its evolution. Teams must provide supplementary material in form of at most 5-minute video. The video may illustrate how your solution fits the lives of the users with the help of scenarios. It may also illustrate some details of the interface and the information presented. Expert reviewers will evaluate submissions and a maximum of 12 teams will be selected to attend the CHI conference.

The Extended Abstract should include:

  • A description of your chosen design focus and proposed solution, with a summary of the approaches taken within your design process, the real life problems that you are solving, and your main claims for your proposed solution with evaluation results
  • Reference to design principles, sources of inspiration, and HCI theory where appropriate and relevant
  • Acknowledgement of partial or incomplete solutions
  • Acknowledgement of any assistance drawn from outside the student team (advisors, faculty, domain experts, existing solutions, users, etc.)

The Supplementary Video Material may include:

  • Examples of significant contextual data and its analysis (primary, secondary research or both)
  • Key creative sources of design inspiration (existing designs and systems)
  • Sketches of the evolving solution
  • Scenarios depicting how the solution fits in the life of users and solves problems / engages them / entertains them
  • Details of the interface and information design where relevant
  • Highlights of significant evaluation results

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 to the extended abstract will not be possible. The submitted PDF version should be camera-ready final version.

Student Design Competition authors will be notified of acceptance or rejection by 29 January, 2016. Authors of accepted submissions will receive instructions on how to submit the publication-ready copy of their Extended Abstract, Poster Design, and Video. Publication-ready submissions are due on 5 February 2016. Accepted teams are expected to attend the conference.

Round Two: Poster Presentation

Submissions selected for round two of the competition will be evaluated during a poster session at CHI 2016. A scheduled 80-minute poster presentation event will take place during the conference. Accepted teams are 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. Based on the results from the poster session, the judges will select four teams to present their proposed solutions orally during a scheduled presentation session named “Student Design Competition Final”. Teams will be also provided space in the convention center to display posters and discuss their proposed solutions with the CHI 2016 attendees.

Specific guidelines for preparing posters:

  • Each poster will have a display space approximately 8 feet wide and 4 feet high.
  • The poster is expected to follow the International Standards Organization (ISO) poster size format (A0). The dimensions for A0 format are 84cm x 119cm, or approximately 33″ x 47″. Either landscape or portrait orientation is acceptable.
  • Audiovisual and computing equipment will not be supplied. Power outlets will not be available. The participants may include QR codes in the poster to link to supplementary material online (such as scenario videos or interactive prototypes).

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: Final Presentation

The four teams selected by the judges following the Poster Presentations will present their design process and solution during the “Student Design Competition Final”. The session will be open to all CHI attendees. During the final round, students will have the opportunity to give a short presentation of their research (10 minutes) followed by a question and answer period (5 minutes), which will be evaluated by a panel of judges. 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

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 2016 conference. Winners will be announced during the closing plenary.


Student Design Competition Selection Process

Each team’s short paper submission will be reviewed by both academic and professional design and usability experts.

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

  • Use of appropriate design methods such as ethnography, contextual research, phenomenological/autobiographical methods, secondary research, reflection, critique, analysis, and empirical evaluation.
  • Clarity and credibility of design focus, purpose and solution relative to the posed challenge.
  • Originality and quality of the design solution, including claims and their supporting evidence.
  • Innovation within the design process.
  • Quality of design management.
  • Clarity of extended abstract and supplementary material.

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

  • Clear communication of key aspects of solution
  • Clear communication of design approaches
  • Clear communication of arguments for proposed solution
  • Craft quality of the solution

Round three, the presentation, will be judged 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
  • Quality, originality and relevance of design solution
Submissions should not contain sensitive, private, or proprietary information that cannot be disclosed at publication time.  Submissions should NOT be anonymous. However, confidentiality of submissions will be maintained during the review process. All rejected submissions will be kept confidential in perpetuity. All submitted materials for accepted submissions will be kept confidential until the start of the conference, with the exception of title and author information which will be published on the website prior to the conference. 

At the Conference

Student Design posters will be on display for the entire conference

Specific guidelines for preparing posters

  • Each poster will have a display space approximately 48 inches wide x 48 inches high. Each board holds two posters on each side, so your poster may not be any larger than these dimensions.
  • Audiovisual and computing equipment will not be supplied. Power outlets will not be available. The participants may include QR codes in the poster to link to supplementary material online (such as scenario videos or interactive prototypes).
  • Please note that posters must be secured with pushpins (which will be provided). If you prefer, you may also bring velcro.

The poster must include

  • The proposed solution’s name, author/co-author names, 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

Logistics for Student Design posters are as follows:

  • The posters will be displayed the whole time, but usually authors are expected to be by their posters for one or two specified break periods so people can ask them questions.
  • Poster setup Monday, May 9 from 13:00 – 16:00
  • Open for Monday evening reception (18:00 – 19:30), and Tuesday coffee breaks (10:50 – 11:30 and 15:50 – 16:30), as well as Tuesday lunch.
  • Open for Wednesday coffee breaks (10:50 – 11:30 and 15:50 – 16:30), Wednesday lunch, Thursday morning coffee break (10:50 – 11:30) and Thursday lunch.
  • Posters must be removed by Thursday, May 12 by 13:30