Student Design Competition: Call for Participation

Quick Facts

Important Dates:

  • Submission deadline: 13 January 2017 (20:00 EST)
  • Notification deadline: 29 January 2017
  • Publication-ready deadline: 5 February 2017


Submission Details:

  • Online Submission: PCS Submission System
  • Template: Extended Abstracts 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.
  • Page Length: For this venue, references DO NOT count towards page length.
  • Submissions are not anonymous and should include all author names, affiliations, and contact information


Selection process: Juried


Chairs: Scott Minneman,  Joonhwan Lee  (


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 15th year of the CHI Student Design Competition (SDC), which has grown into a premiere place for students to demonstrate their skills in Interaction Design and User Experience. The SDC poses a real-world topic and demands that teams use myriad approaches (design research, brainstorming, prototyping, implementation, and evaluation, for starters) to hone their submissions. Last year, there were 63 international submissions (over 250 individual students) from about 15 countries. With your entries we hope to grow those numbers and increase the quality of submissions while continuing to offer students and instructors the most hands-on, comprehensive, and real-world design experience we possibly can. The competition always draws a large audience at CHI and also serves as a fantastic opportunity to identify the field’s most talented students.


Scott L. Minneman, California College of the Arts, USA

Joonhwan Lee, Seoul National University, Korea


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 Brief: Leveling the Playing Field

Despite the numerous advances that technology has produced over the years, it often appears that swaths of the populace are excluded or left behind.  In this latest wave of hyper-targeted apps, in particular, critics assert that efforts are being squandered on entitled audiences (e.g., services that relieve you of the burden of returning your impulse on-line purchases), or aimed at inane ends (e.g., remember when the “Yo” app was a hit?), or pandering to some of humanity’s worst qualities (e.g., laziness and instant gratification).  As design professionals we have choices about what to work on, and consideration about where to expend your talents is something to be developed and honed as carefully as your UX and IxD talents.


Alternatives to this pattern have appeared in many guises; Inclusive Design, Universal Design, and last year’s SDC theme of Assistive Technology represent places where designers can target their efforts to humanitarian ends.  The problems that crop up when one heads in this direction aren’t necessarily easy, and the work typically requires deep engagement with an unfamiliar constituency or cultural setting.  After a design target has been identified, creating an intervention of some sort presents further challenges, often with atypical forms of interaction, in unfamiliar circumstances.  The possibilities here are myriad, and part of the contest will be choosing wisely…but the aged, the economically disadvantaged, those with a physical or cognitive anomaly, or those who are marginalized in some other way seem like good places to begin your explorations.  That said, it’s not necessarily about finding an exotic demographic—members of your immediate community may also present possibilities for your efforts.


Picking a constituency or setting where ongoing access and engagement is possible can be a big contributor to the success of your endeavors.  Another effective strategy might be to identify specific changes that you want to encourage or engender, like slowing down, or making reasoned decisions, or learning a nuanced skill.  Engaging outside of one’s everyday experience is one time-proven way of uncovering needs where problem-solving will succeed, or for discovering opportunities where more experimental and speculative approaches may be fruitful.


People are all different, and by no means is this challenge intended solely as a critique of contemporary design practice.  In fact, some of the best mainstream technologies are also fantastic equalizers.  The digital age has greatly expanded the reach and accessibility of many sources of information, and is revolutionizing the global educational system.  Robotics, once relegated to factory automation, is finally making inroads into domestic settings and can serve the infirm (as well as the lazy).  Social networks have enabled distributed communities to join forces in powerful ways to help change political cultures or even to assist in alleviating rare medical conditions.  Technology can also have a very direct effect—for example, speech technologies can create opportunities for folks who cannot use visual displays.  Seeing the opportunities for applying both established and cutting-edge technologies in novel places, in creative ways, to new ends…that is the challenge here.


The stated theme of CHI 2017 is “Explore.  Innovate.  Inspire.”  Your competition entries should operationalize this theme by creating an intervention to “Level the Playing Field” in some fashion.  Find a group you want to empower, or an activity you want to broaden access to, or interpret this brief’s meaning in your own way.  Use your research skills to make sense of the situation, your implementation skills to iterate and learn more, and your evaluation skills to assess your interventions.  If you’re after novelty, you can apply all sorts of contemporary themes in technology, widely construed—big data, social networks, IoT, robotics, gamification, microfinance, the sharing economy, new sensors and actuators, and/or 3D printing, just to name a few.  Remember, though, that sometimes the best interventions may flow from a simple insight gleaned from intensive fieldwork, and might require only minimal technology—but applied at just the right place or time.


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

  • Does the design intervention address a real population and/or situation?
  • Does the created intervention use technology in an appropriate and novel way?
  • Was relevant prior work properly identified and cited?
  • Were analysis, synthesis, design, evaluation and metrics both systematic and sufficient?
  • Was the intervention developed far enough to demonstrate the key ideas?
  • Were genuine stakeholders involved in the process of development and evaluation?
  • Did the team explore the entire ecosystem of stakeholders, conditions, and contexts?
  • Was the intervention 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, 2017 20:00 EST. 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 (Early 2017). 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, 2017. 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 2017. 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 2017. 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 2017 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 2017 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.






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Student Design Competition: Call for Participation