The 2016 6th Annual IDSA-STL Student Design Competition

The 2016 6th Annual IDSA-STL Student Design Competition


The 6th Annual IDSA-STL Student Design Competition held on Saturday, October 15th, 2016, was the St. Louis Chapter’s most participated annual competition to date, with roughly 100 people attending from across the Midwest. The Saint Louis Science Center delightfully partnered with our chapter for the 2nd time and offered North Boeing Hall as the event venue, complete with audio visual services, catering coordination, and marketing support. University participation included 11 teams from among: The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Purdue University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, and the University of Kansas. Also present were a variety of regional design firms, members from the STL agricultural community, the Saint Louis Science Center and the general public. I had the privilege to lead the competition and serve as event host for the 3rd consecutive year.


The 2016-2017 IDSA-STL Chapter officers:

Event Mission: 

  • To provide students enrolled in a post-secondary institution within the IDSA Midwest District an opportunity for development and presentation of innovative research-oriented design solutions for review before a professional jury and the general public.
  • The opportunity was to enable design students a supplement to their portfolios while also enhancing credentials demonstrating team-developed presentations within a professional atmosphere and a distinguished institution.
  • While student entrants were required to work as teams (of at least two), the greater opportunity was for collaboration across multiple disciplines.
  • To enrich the event, business leaders were to be invited from among the industries of design, agriculture (event theme), and science to enhance an atmosphere of meaningful exchange and exposure within a spirit of innovation.




Our Partner: 

The fabulous Saint Louis Science Center (SLSC) partnered with us and asked that, given the event coinciding the opening of their extensive, brand new agricultural exhibit: GROW, that the competition have an agricultural theme. To host the event once again at SLSC meant the gathering would take place within a rich backdrop of science, innovation, and aesthetics – buzz words within the IDSA arena.

Paul Freiling, Saint Louis Science Center’s Director of Emerging Technology Education, was our contact representative at SLSC and helped us in many ways, including securing the venue and AV, connecting us to catering services, and assisting with marketing support.


The 2016 Competition Challenge:

Within a rapidly rising global population, worldwide agricultural resources are diminishing. Current trends have pointed toward urban farming as an opportunity to help satisfy food security pressures within these sectors. This year we challenged teams to utilize design thinking methods and evaluate urban farming to propose an innovative product solution for facilitating food security to urban populations.


North Boeing Hall, The Saint Louis Science Center, Saturday, October 15th, 2016

The event began with a catered lunch as an opportunity for students and professionals to network.




In attendance (in addition to the four universities previously mentioned):

Special Presentations began following lunch:

Brian Pelcak, IDSA-STL Chapter Chair presenting on behalf of the chapter.


Dave Cooperstein, Senior Creative Designer, presented on behalf of PGAV Destinations,

Principal event sponsor:



Valerie Bayes, STEM Engagement Lead, presenting on behalf of The Monsanto Company,

Platinum event sponsor:



Maddie Earnest, Keynote speaker, GROW Exhibition Manager, the Saint Louis Science Center; founder and co-owner, Local Harvest Grocery; co-author of Missouri Harvest.

Presentation: “GROW as a Case Study for Agricultural Intersections”



Mike Hill, General Manager, TechShop,

Donated five: one-month, TechShop-STL memberships:


The Jury composed of five professionals from the Design & Agricultural Community:

1. Jennifer Dormuth, Owner of Hot Skillet Farms:

2. Maddie Earnest, Grow Exhibition Manager, the Saint Louis Science Center,

founder and co-owner, Local Harvest Grocery; co-author of Missouri Harvest.:

3. Jonathan Eziquiel-Shriro, Senior Industrial Designer, Metaphase Inc.:

4. Jason Mills, Designer, PGAV Destinations, IDSA-STL Chapter Vice Chair:

5. Jake Salter, Engineer and Project Lead, Objex Design:


Team Presentations:

10-minute presentations (Teague Peak, timer, PGAV Destinations) were delivered by each of the 11 teams which included Power Point, video, design boards, and often prototypes of design concepts with their solutions to answer the competition brief.

Teams presenting in event order:

1. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Team Harvest Street:


2. The University of Kansas, Team Ed-E:


3. The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Team GrapeVine:


4. Purdue University, Team Herban Garden Project:


5. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Team Generation Growth:


6. Purdue University, Team Growing Gardner:


7. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Team By Acre:


8. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Team Thrive

(The PGAV Destinations Innovation Award for 1st Place):


9. The University of Kansas, Team Grow Lab

(The Monsanto Honorable Mention Award Runner-up):


10. The University of Kansas, Team Bloom:


11. Purdue University, Team Wannabe’s Box:


Paul Freiling of the Saint Louis Science Center announced that SLSC would continue the partnership with IDSA-STL in 2017 to help host the 7th Annual IDSA-STL Student Design Competition. Attendees were quick to show enthusiasm – as were we.

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