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Student Design Competition


Steven A. Wall, University of Glasgow
Ilona Posner, Usability Consultant

Click here to read the Student Design Competition FAQ, with the latest Student Design Competition news.

Student Design Competition: A Message from Steven and Ilona

Ilona Posner Steven A. Wall

This is the fourth year of the CHI Student Design Competition. The competition has grown each year with increased international representation. In 2006 there were 50 projects from 24 institutions in 8 countries. Feedback indicates that students who participate in the competition often pursue HCI related studies and careers. The 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, 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.

As in previous years, we invited practicing researchers and professionals to suggest current and socially relevant areas for students to engage with. Our thanks go to Stephen Perelgut of IBM for suggesting a focus on public transit.

Contact us at:

The Design Problem

Traffic congestion and under utilized public transport can cost local governments and businesses millions in expenses. Statistics indicate that around 10% of journeys are made by public transport, and almost 7 times as many are made by car. Recently, petrol prices have surged due to supply concerns, and if this trend continues, increases in cost of fuel will start to impinge upon business and retail spending. Research shows that cars contribute 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions, which may affect climate change, and a study by the European Commission in 2005 calculated that airborne pollution reduced life expectancy in the EU by an average of almost 9 months, and was responsible for 310,000 premature deaths.

We invite student teams to design a service to promote or encourage the use of public transit. The solutions should follow a user centered design process, supported by background and, if possible, ethnographic research of the solution space. In keeping with the theme of the 2007 conference, we encourage students to Reach Beyond to a target group of users beyond their immediate peers: solutions could support a specific target group of passengers, for example, young professionals, parents with children, the elderly or handicapped. Alternatively, the solution could provide help for drivers, or a tool for supporting a local transport infrastructure. Solutions should be focused on a real location and be sensitive to the target user's needs and those of the local culture.

To enter the competition, student teams may present either a concept (i.e., a clear, detailed design specification that can be taken to prototype), or a fully realized prototype. Either way, teams must clearly illustrate their design decisions and demonstrate the user centered design processes that have been followed. We strongly encourage consideration of:

  • Previous work in this area and in adjacent areas
  • Field work to ground your design decisions
  • Elaboration of methods for evaluating your designs within your iterative design framework


Owing to the competitive nature of the Student Competition, CHI 2007 will not provide individual mentoring for potential submissions. Student authors may take advantage of mentoring opportunities with faculty and colleagues at their University as long as it remains mentoring and not active participation by the mentors.

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.

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

Proof of Student Status

To be eligible for the student competition, all participants must provide a signed letter from their academic supervisor confirming that at least 50% of their working week is spent following an academic course of study, and that they were not employed within HCI-related industries when working on the team's submission. All students must provide proof of their student status on or before 15 January 2007. Each team must provide one proof package - a single file containing scanned signed letters for each team member - together with their project submission, see below.

Overview of the Competition Structure

The competition follows a three stage process. Each stage focuses on communicating the team's ideas through a different mode, as follows:

  1. Teams will submit a short paper (6 pages maximum) describing their design solution. Expert reviewers will evaluate submissions and a maximum of 12 teams will be selected to attend the CHI conference based on the review scores.
  2. Accepted teams from will be 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. The Judges will select 4 teams to participate in the competition final.
  3. The 4 finalists will give an oral presentation on their design to the panel of Student Design Competition Judges and CHI conference attendees. Based on the criteria below, the competition judges will rank and identify an overall winner of the competition and two runner-up teams (second and third place).

Attendance at the CHI 2007 conference is mandatory for selected teams to reach stage 2 of the above process.

Submission Requirements and Guidelines

Teams should submit a short paper (6 pages maximum) submitted in the Conference Extended Abstracts Publication Format due 15 January 2007. 17:00 PST.

This paper must include:

  • A description of the proposed solution, including the approach taken and the design process followed
  • Reference to design principles and theory where appropriate
  • Acknowledgement of partial or incomplete solutions
  • Acknowledgement of any assistance drawn from outside the student team (advisors, faculty, domain experts, existing solutions, users, etc.)

Guidelines for Paper Submission

  • All submissions must be in English and must include title and author information, including author affiliations.
  • Faxed submissions are not acceptable.
  • Late submissions will not be reviewed.
  • All submissions must be preceded or accompanied by a Proof of Student Status package. (See Proof of Student Status section above).
  • The written paper should include a short abstract, keywords, body, and references (for more detail, please see the Conference Extended Abstract Publication Format ).
  • Submissions must not contain proprietary or confidential material and should not cite proprietary or confidential publications. All submissions must be in the camera-ready format (PDF) specified by CHI. Due to tight publication schedules, revisions will not be possible. The submitted PDF version will be considered the final version of the paper.
  • Make submissions via the SIGCHI PCS system external link
  • Authors are referred to the Guide to Successful Submissions: Papers and CHI Notes, in particular, the section titled: "Describing the work clearly and concisely".
  • We recommend that teams register using an e-mail alias/distribution list or shared e-mail address for communication between the competition chairs and the team members. Important information will be distributed via e-mail for teams invited to attend the conference, which must be acted on in a timely fashion.

Submission Review Criteria and Process

Each team's short paper submission will be distributed to and reviewed by experts. Care will be taken to avoid conflicts of interest/affiliation when matching reviewers and teams.

Teams' submissions are reviewed based on:

  • Analysis of/approach to the proposed challenge
  • Appropriateness/relevance of the solution to the posed challenge
  • Originality of the solution
  • Quality of the design process
  • Quality of the argument for the proposed solution
  • Cost efficiency of solution
  • Clarity of the written presentation

Based on reviewers' rankings, up to 12 teams will be invited to compete at the CHI 2007 conference in San Jose, CA. Authors of accepted submissions will be expected to attend the conference in order to participate in the later stages of the competition, and to present their submissions to other conference attendees. Due to the collaborative nature of the team competition, it is essential that at least two of the team members attend the poster presentation and final competition at the conference. We regret that the ACM cannot provide funding for authors of accepted submissions to attend the conference, however, we strongly recommend that authors of submissions sign up as CHI Student Volunteer program.

Teams will be notified of acceptance or rejection the week of 9 February 2007. All accepted papers will be published in the Student Competition section of the CHI2007 Extended Abstracts. Teams must immediately sign and return the copyright form sent upon acceptance. In preparation for the second phase of the competition, all accepted teams must submit a completed poster design (electronic copies in PDF format) three weeks before the conference, by April 7, 2007, to allow the judges a chance to familiarise themselves with the submissions.

At the Conference

Poster Presentation

Up to 12 successful submissions will be invited to CHI 2007 to take part in the next stage(s) of the competition, based upon reviewer ratings and comments. Teams will be provided space in the convention center to display posters and discuss their proposed solutions with the CHI 2007 attendees.

A scheduled 90-minute poster presentation event will take place on during the conference. Student teams will be expected to host their posters and discuss their approach, design method and solutions with the Student Design Competition Judges. In addition to the above criteria for successful paper submissions, the poster presentations will be assessed by judges on the following criteria:

  • Clear communication of key aspects of solution
  • Clear communication of design method
  • Clear communication of rationale for proposed solution
  • Visual design and aesthetic appearance

The competition judges will select four teams to orally present their proposed solutions during a scheduled Student Design Competition Final CHI presentation session, based on these criteria.

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) in portrait orientation. The dimensions for A0 format are 84cm x 119cm, or approximately 33" x 47".
  • Audiovisual and computing equipment will not be supplied. Power outlets will not be available.
  • In the past, the inclusion of a packet of the author's business cards or an envelope of fliers attached to the poster with a short paper to elaborate on poster content has proved an effective way to communicate with interested people when you are not there.

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

Oral Presentation

Four teams selected following the Poster Presentations will present their design process and solution during a short presentation to the Judges and CHI attendees. Presentations will be limited to 10 minutes plus a subsequent 5 minutes to answer questions from the judges and audience. 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

Please see Standard Technical Support to understand what A/V equipment will be provided.

Presentations will be reviewed by the Student Design Competition Judges and a winning team and two runners-up will be selected. In addition to the criteria for successful paper submissions, the oral presentations will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • 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


The top four entries to the Student Competition earn a Certificate of Recognition and prizes to be described later. The winning entry will be recognized during the closing plenary session of the CHI 2007 conference.

Student Design Competition Checklist

Well in advance of the deadline (15 January 2007 at 17:00 PST):

  • Prepare a short paper (up to 6 pages) in the Conference Extended Abstracts Publication Format
  • Submit two files using SIGCHI PCS siteexternal link system. Submit:
    1. Your paper as a PDF in the "Upload the Paper" section and
    2. Your Proof of Student Status PDF under "Additional Files."

Important Dates

  • 15 January 2007: Deadline for submission of short papers and proof of student status
  • 9 February 2007: Notification of acceptance/rejection for submissions
  • 7 April 2007: The 12 finalists submit completed posters for review by judges

Related Pages

Student Volunteers