Calling All UC Davis Creators and Makers: Join the 2018 Creator Challenge

By Bonnie Dickson

DAVIS, Calif.; April 16, 2018 – Virtual reality, wearables, artificial intelligence – these are just a few of the emerging technologies that students will have a chance to explore during the 2018 UC Davis Creator Challenge Series.

Now in its second year, the annual student maker competition helps student teams grow ideas into viable products or business ventures. The competition was created by the College of Engineering’s Student Startup Center to accommodate a growing student interest in innovation, entrepreneurship and technology at UC Davis. This year’s event encourages students to explore technologies and solutions related to UC Davis health and sustainability initiatives.

Students during the 2017 creator Challenge Series. Photo Courtesy of the Student Startup Center.

The three-part series kicks off on April 28 with an Ideathon at the UC Davis ARC. The Ideathon will include workshops where students can explore new and emerging technologies to inspire ideation and creative problem solving. Innovation Minds, a Bay Area startup that promotes spaces and programs that nurture a creator culture, will provide hands-on tutorials and gadgets for students to use during the event.

“The whole philosophy of Innovation Minds is to give students the chance to touch, feel and really experience the ‘wow’ factor of emerging technologies, so they can connect the dots to come up with a great idea,” says Bala Balasubramaniam, chairman and founder of Innovation Minds.

In the days following the Ideathon, student teams will prepare their ideas for the final two events of the series – the Create-a-thon and the Sharkathon.

During the 24-hour Create-a-thon, students will develop a working prototype of their idea. The event challenges students to develop a minimally viable product to present to a panel of industry experts and potential investors at the third and final series event, the Sharkathon. First, second and third place cash prizes will be awarded, as well as prizes for ideas that demonstrate the best incorporation of health and the best incorporation of sustainability.

The competition encourages students to explore the full life cycle of an idea, and potentially grow their idea into a full-fledged venture.

Last year’s winners were a group of students who created a mobile parking app that directs drivers to available parking spaces to reduce the amount of time people spend circling parking lots. The creators of Just a Parking App, or JAPA, are now working with UC Davis Transportation and Parking Services to bring their app to college campuses across the country.

Team JAPA, short for Just A Parking App, won first prize at last years Sharkathon – the third installment of the Creator Challenge Series. Photo Courtesy of the Student Startup Center.

“Competitions like this are one a great way for students to learn what it really takes to develop a successful business model and create a minimally viable product,” says Liz Tang, director of the Student Startup Center at UC Davis. “Clients get innovative products and students get experience developing these products.”

The event series is free and open to all UC Davis students. Students can sign up for the series as an individual or as a team. The Student Startup Center will facilitate team formation by matching individuals based on their skill set.

Visit the Creator Challenge Series website for information and updates in the coming weeks.

Key Dates:

  • Ideathon  |  Saturday, April 28, 3 p.m.  |  UC Davis ARC Ballroom
  • Create-a-thon  |  Friday, May 4-Saturday May 5, 3 p.m.   |  Bruce and Marie West Lobby Kemper Hall  
  • Sharkathon  |  Sunday, May 6, 12 p.m.  |  Bruce and Marie West Lobby Kemper Hall