Wege Prize 2015 enters second year, expands nationally

The Wege Prize is a West Michigan-born concept and collaboration between Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD) and The Wege Foundation.

It is a collaborative design competition that gives teams of college students the chance to work across disciplines, use design thinking principles, and contend for $30,000 in total cash prizes. In 2014, the competition was focused on West Michigan colleges and universities. This year, the the challenge is to design a product, service, or business model that can function within a circular economic model -- and it's expanding its reach.

For 2015, as planned, the competition was rolled out nationally and now features 16 teams of five students, representing a total of 16 different colleges and universities (a complete list can be viewed here) and 56 different academic disciplines. Five international sustainability and design professionals will return as judges.

Gayle DeBruyn, Wege Prize organizer and Collaborative Design Program Chair at Kendall College says the team behind the Wege Prize has had to make some adjustments from the 2014 program to a create a dynamic national competition. "We needed to address distance learning opportunities," she says. "Judges will be engaged in online conversations and be able to encourage students in other places." She says they have adopted BlackBoard as a platform to help students, faculty and judges collaborate virtually.

DeBruyn says this year's challenge, designing for a circular economy, is especially complex and will push students to be even more thoughtful and creative. (She recommends visiting the Ellen Macarthur Foundation website to gain appreciation for the complexity of this challenge.)

Looking forward, DeBruyn says the team is already in planning stages to launch the Wege Prize internationally in 2016.

To learn more about the Wege Prize you can visit their site here. For the Wege Foundation, visit their site here and KCAD here.

Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor

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